Provisional census results: constitutional amendment may be introduced ahead of polls


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A constitutional amendment may be introduced for holding 2018 general elections on the basis of provisional results of the population census in the event that the final results have not been tabulated.

Sources said the issue was discussed in the last meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) presided over by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on August 25, 2017.

The Secretary CCI stated that in its last meeting, the CCI directed the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to complete the census process as per schedule in a fair and transparent manner. The Chief Census Commissioner PBS briefed the Council on the provisional results of the Census 2017 and contended that the final results will be available by April, 2018.

He requested approval of the provisional results by CCI before making it public. On a query from the chair the Chief Census Commissioner clarified that the census was conducted under the supervision of five teams of international observers of United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) for maintaining transparency.

The Finance Minister stated that the delay in declaring final results may lead to serious complications in holding the general elections in 2018 as under article 51 (5) of the Constitution the general elections are required to be conducted on the basis of population in accordance with the last published census.

He further stated that in case the final census results are declared in April, 2018, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) would not be able to conduct elections in 2018 as per constitutional requirements. Therefore, Ishaq Dar argued that a constitutional amendment to permit holding of general elections, on the basis of provisional results may be debated/considered.

The Secretary to the Prime Minister proposed that additional scanners with manpower and financial resources may be provided to the Statistics Division to complete its work by December, 2017. The CCI decided that IPCC will examine the matter from all angles introducing constitutional amendment as well as enhancing resources in consultation with the ECP so that the next elections are held on the basis of final results of 6th population census. The CCI further directed that IPCC will submit the report in the next meeting.