KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has asked the Election Commission to stop the process of delimitation of local government constituencies in Sindh till the final publication of the results of the sixth population census held in 2017.
On April 13, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had issued a letter regarding “delimitation of union council, union committee and ward in Town Committee and Municipal Committee for the conduct of the forthcoming Local Government Elections in the Province of Sindh”.
The 2015 LG elections were held in the constituencies delimited on the basis of the 1998 census. And as the local governments in Sindh are set to complete their four-year term in August, the ECP has started a delimitation exercise based on the sixth population census so that it could conduct the next LG elections within 120 days after expiry of the term of the present LGs.
However, the MQM-P took strong exception to the ECP’s plan to hold delimitation on the basis of the provisional results of the 2017 census. Party convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui had written a letter to the ECP secretary stating that under Chapter III, Section 17(2) of the Election Act, 2017, “The Commission shall delimit constituencies after every census officially published.”
In the letter, a copy of which is provided to Dawn, he reminded the ECP that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics had published the provisional results of the census on Aug 25, 2017 and the Council of Common Interest has “still not published the final results” of the census.
ECP reminded of the law that says: ‘The Commission shall delimit constituencies after every census officially published’
He said that parliament had passed the 24th Amendment to Constitution to allocate National Assembly seats to each province, the federal capital and Fata on the basis of provisional results of the 2017 census.
Senior MQM-P leader and Federal Minister for IT and Telecom Aminul Haque told Dawn that it was a one-time exception and now delimitation must be held on the basis of the final results of the census.
He said no response was as yet received from the ECP on Dr Siddiqui’s letter that demanded an immediate halt to the process of delimitation till the publication of final results of the Census 2017.
The MQM-P letter also pointed out that the process of delimitation in the prevailing dangerous situations of the Covid-19 pandemic was not in the health interest of the people of Sindh and Pakistan.
The MQM-P and many other parties had refused to accept the 2017 census provisional results and they alleged that millions of residents of Karachi were missing as they were not counted during the census process.
Even, the first point of a memorandum of understanding signed between the MQM-P and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf before making a coalition was about the results of the Karachi census. It reads: “The resolution passed by the National Assembly regarding Karachi census and as decided by the Council of Common Interest should be implemented immediately.”
In December 2019, the Sindh Assembly had also unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the federal government conduct a third-party audit to verify the provisional results of the 2017 results.