Over 128 million Pakistanis to exercise right to vote in Feb 8 polls

6 months ago 255
A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the NA-75 Sialkot-IV Daska by-election on April 10, 2021. — APP A woman casts her vote at a polling station during the NA-75 Sialkot-IV Daska by-election on April 10, 2021. — APP

As the electoral process moves ahead for the February 8, 2024 elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued the data of the registered voters who will exercise their right to vote.

As per the ECP data, over 128.5 million Pakistanis will be deciding the fate of 175 political parties contesting in the upcoming general elections.

As per the data, there are 128,585,760 including 69,263,704 males and 59,322,056 females, while 175 political parties will participate in the upcoming elections.

Meanwhile, the returning officers (ROs) appointed by the electoral watchdog, issued a public notice for submission of the nomination papers for the national and provincial assemblies' seats, paving the way for conducting the general election.

ECP Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry, while addressing district returning officers (DROs), said that today (Tuesday) was a very important day in the country’s election history after the ROs had issued the public notice, inviting candidates to file their nomination papers.

He assured the DROs of all-out support in the conduct of free, fair, and transparent elections in KP.

"Conducting the general election was a national obligation and together we would be able to hold free, fair and transparent elections in the country," he said.

Urging people and government departments to unite for the election, he directed the relevant authorities to ensure accessibility of persons with voters with disabilities to the polling stations so that they could easily exercise their right to vote on February 8, 2024.

According to ECP’s election schedule for the 2024 general election, candidates can file their nomination papers with respective ROs on December 20-22, 2023. The names of all nominated candidates will be published on December 23.

Similarly, the last date for scrutiny of their nomination papers would be from Dec 24-30, during which the decisions of ROs regarding rejection or acceptance of nomination papers could be appealed, while the last date for deciding appeals by the Appellate Tribunal was January 03, 2024.

The last date for deciding appeals against decisions of the Returning Officers regarding acceptance or rejection of appeals by the appellate tribunal is January 10, 2024, while a revised list of candidates will be published on January 11.

According to the schedule, the revised list of candidates will be published on January 12, while election symbols to candidates will be allotted on January 13.

This election programme would also apply to the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, KP, and Balochistan provinces. The last date for filing of a separate priority list for seats reserved for women and non-Muslims before the RO is December 22.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued guidelines for candidates filing nomination papers for seats in national and provincial assemblies.

The fee for obtaining one nomination paper’s form is fixed at Rs10, and one candidate can submit a maximum of five nomination papers with different proposers/seconders.

The fee for submission of a nomination paper for a national assembly seat is Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 for a provincial assembly seat was non-refundable. The fee for the nomination paper could either be submitted directly to the Returning Officer or through a bank draft in RO’s name in any National Bank of Pakistan branch and its receipt should be attached to the nomination form.

The nomination papers could be obtained from respective returning officers at office working hours from 8:30am to 4:30pm from December 20-22, 2023.

The attested copies of computerised national identity cards of the candidates and their proposers and seconders besides vote certificates issued by the concerned office of the district election commissioner and income tax returns of the last three years and passports should be attached with the nomination papers.

Political experts said that past performances of political and religious parties’ governments and large baradaris (communities) would play a crucial role in deciding the fate of political leaders.

ECP issues eligibility criteria

Meanwhile, the ECP issued criteria for eligibility of contesting candidates of national and provincial assemblies' seats. The candidates should be citizens of Pakistan having 25 years of age at the final date of filing of nomination paper.

Moreover, the candidate should be a registered voter in any part of Pakistan for the National Assembly and of the province contesting for provincial assembly seats.

It is mandatory for candidates of women-reserved seats in the National Assembly to be registered voters of that province and fulfil eligibility criteria mentioned in Articles 62-63 of the Constitution.

The proposers and seconders of candidates contesting on general seats should be voters of the relevant constituency, while proposers and seconders of national and provincial assemblies women and non-Muslim seats should be voters of that province.

Similarly, the proposers and seconders of candidates for national assembly seats of non-Muslims should be registered voters in any part of the country.

The priority list issued by the political parties for reserved seats needs to be attached with the nomination papers of the candidate, while a special account regarding election expenses is required to be opened by the candidates in any scheduled banks or details of an already opened account with nomination papers besides attaching bank statements.