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Business News/ Elections / Pakistan elections to be delayed? Elections Commission flags order for changing party symbols
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Pakistan elections to be delayed? Elections Commission flags order for changing party symbols

The Elections Commission of Pakistan has warned that if party symbols continue to be changed ahead of the general elections, the elections may have to be postponed.

Pakistan Elections 2024: Commuters move past the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) flags hung over a street in Karachi on January, ahead of the country's upcoming general elections (AFP)Premium
Pakistan Elections 2024: Commuters move past the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) flags hung over a street in Karachi on January, ahead of the country's upcoming general elections (AFP)

The Elections Commission of Pakistan has said that if orders keep coming to change party symbols ahead of the crucial general assembly elections, the poll body would have to postpone the elections. General elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan on 8 February 2024 to elect the members of the 16th National Assembly.

The Poll body has told the Pakistani Senate that Pakistan elections “cannot be postponed". 

According to a report by Dawn, ECP in a statement pointed out that election symbols were being changed through various forums.

Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's party launched its campaign as he was accused of having country's powerful military's support which have made him a front-runner to win upcoming general elections. 

Meanwhile, cricketer-turned politician and former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan is still in jail as candidates from his party will contest the elections as independents using different election symbols after the country’s top court barred them from their cricket bat image.

The ECP further said that after the allotment of election symbols, it had already ordered the printing of ballot papers to the three printing corporations and the printing work had started a day before.

"If the process of changing the election symbols continues in the same way, there is a fear of election delay because the ballot papers will have to be reprinted for which time is already limited and on the other hand, the special paper available for the ballot papers will also be lost," he said.

The Pakistan Election Commission also noted an over 33 per cent increase in the number of candidates for the upcoming general elections, as a total of 18,059 are in the run as compared to 11,700 candidates who contested the 2018 polls, according to Dawn.

Notably, in the 2018 Pakistan elections, 800-tonne paper was used for printing 220 million ballot papers, while this time the estimate is 2,070-tonne paper for printing of 260 million ballot papers particularly after the update of electoral rolls in the backdrop of the delimitation of constituencies in Pakistan.

While the ECP is dealing with this situation, it has repeatedly issued instructions to relevant officials that election symbols should not be changed once the printing has started. However, the statement added, "It was also being considered that if the trend of changing the election symbols did not stop, there would be no other option but to postpone the elections in such constituencies".

The ECP earlier barred district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) from changing election symbols allocated to electoral candidates for the upcoming elections, Dawn reported.

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Published: 17 Jan 2024, 11:52 AM IST
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