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Mar 21, 2007
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KP has 55 National Assembly seats after delimitation

Bureau Report
October 1, 2023

PESHAWAR: In the preliminary delimitation by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the first since the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (now tribal districts) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2018, the number of National Assembly seats for the rugged northwestern region has reduced from 12 to six in line with the 25th Constitutional Amendment.

The province will have 55 National Assembly seats, including 45 general and 10 women’s, according to the delimitation, whose details were released last Wednesday.

Similarly, the provincial assembly will have 115 general seats, 26 for women and four for non-Muslims, taking the entire strength of the house to 145.

In the preliminary delimitation, 12 NA seats of the ex-Fata have been halved - for the first time – in line with the 25th Constitutional Amendment that reduced the region’s seats after the Fata merger with KP.

ECP says NA constituencies for tribal districts reduced from 12 to six as population ‘rationalised’

Of those 12 seats, Bajaur, South Waziristan, Kurram and Khyber districts have lost one each and Frontier Regions their only one.

However, Mohmand district will retain its single NA seat, according to the ECP’s delimitation report.
The ECP merged Orakzai and Hangu districts into a single constituency due to low population.

The report said that 10 out of 36 KP districts didn’t attain the population threshold for an exclusive NA seat, so their constituencies were merged with those of neighbouring districts.

It added that three districts of Kohistan region, including Upper and Lower Kohistan and Kolai-Palas, would continue to have a single NA constituency like Chitral region, which was bifurcated in Lower and Upper Chitral districts.

The report said Upper Chitral district having the “ratio of seat in fraction as 0.22 being insufficient for one seat” had been clubbed with Lower Chitral district with the seat share of 0.35 in an inter-district constituency. Both Chitral districts separately have insufficient share required for an independent NA seat, according to it.

The two districts came into being after the bifurcation of one Chitral district.

“Geographically, the two [Chitral] districts are conjoined and inhabitants form socially and ethnically a cohesive community and hence, considering homogeneity and public convenience, they’re merged into one National Assembly constituency,” the report said.

It said Tank district had been merged with Dera lsmail Khan district to rationalise the population in an inter-district constituency.

“Tank district remained part of Dera lsmail Khan in the past. Both [Tank and DI Khan] districts have identical features based on homogeneity and geographical proximity and hence, they’re clubbed,” it said.

The report said the ECP had given Hangu and Orakzai districts one combined NA seat due to inadequate population for an independent seat for Orakzai district.

It said Orakzai couldn’t be “conveniently” clubbed with any other district except Hangu as inhabitants of both districts were socially and economically interdependent and interconnected.

However, the ECP clubbed Mansehra and Torghar districts together due to low population of the latter.
As for the seats of the KP Assembly, Swat district has got another constituency as a result of an increase in population.

Similarly, the number of provincial assembly seats for Shangla district has gone up from two to three according to the revised share in the house strength on the basis of an increase in population in line with the latest census.

“Three constituencies in the [Shangla] district were drawn as PK-28 Shangla-I, PK-29 Shangla-II and PK-30 Shangla-III with a population of 317,030, 299,259 and 274,963, respectively,” the report said.

It added that Upper and Lower Chitral, which were in a single constituency before bifurcation, had separate provincial assembly constituencies.

The report, however, revealed that Peshawar district had lost a constituency in the provincial assembly taking its strength in the house from 14 to 13.

It added that the latest delimitation had reduced the number of Bajaur’s provincial assembly seats from four to three but doubled the single seat of Hangu district.


ECP’s preliminary delimitation:

FAFEN raises issue with population variation

October 1, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) on Saturday revealed that as many as 180 constituencies of national and provincial assemblies as proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) do not meet the legal preferability of 10 percent variation in the population, undermining the principle of equal suffrage that was otherwise upheld by the Parliament through latest amendments in the Elections Act, 2017.

According to the amendments enacted on August 4, 2023, after parliamentary approval, the Election Commission was expected to disregard district boundaries to ensure that the variation among the population of an assembly’s constituencies does not ordinarily exceed 10 per cent, said a statement.

This variation among the population of constituencies may be identified by comparing the population of a constituency with the average population per seat of an assembly, also called quota per seat. The quota is calculated by dividing the population of a province, as determined by the last census officially published, by the number of seats of that province in national or provincial assemblies, as provided in the Constitution.

The quota for each National Assembly (NA) constituency for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was calculated at 907,913, Islamabad Capital Territory 787,954, Punjab 905,595, Sindh 913,052 and Balochistan 930,900. Similarly, the Provincial Assembly (PA) seat quota for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was established at 355,270, Punjab 429,929, Sindh 428,432, and Balochistan 292,047. An analysis of the preliminary report of delimitation 2023 and draft lists of constituencies reflects that the parliamentary emphasis on minimizing the population variation was not extensively used to ensure the equality of votes in constituencies of an assembly.

The recently added provision in the law was only employed in delimiting 11 National Assembly constituencies – six in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three in Punjab, and two in Sindh – and one Punjab Assembly constituency. As a result, the number of constituencies with more than 10 per cent variation in population went up from 170 – 82 NA and 88 PAs – in the 2022 delimitation to 180 – 83 NA and 97 PAs – in the 2023 draft lists of constituencies.

This means that more than one-fifth of the total constituencies demarcated do not comply with Section 20 (3) of the Elections Act, 2017. The proposed NA constituencies with more than 10 per cent population variation included 35 constituencies in Punjab, 22 in Sindh, 21 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and five in Balochistan. Similarly, the PA constituencies included 30 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 26 in Punjab, 25 in Balochistan, and 16 in Sindh.

FAFEN believed that the issue of inequality of population among constituencies of an Assembly has persisted as the ECP did not update Rules 10 (4) and 10 (5) of the Election Rules 2017 to reflect the spirit of Section 20(3) provisioned by the recent amendment that reads, “it shall not be necessary to strictly adhere to the existing district boundaries in exceptional cases.” However, a proviso under Rule 10 (5) of the Elections Rules 2017 allows the ECP to calculate the quota for determining population variation by dividing the total population of the district by number of seats allocated to that district.

As a result, the largest NA constituency NA-39 Bannu has a population of 1,357,890, which is nearly three times bigger than the smallest constituency, NA-1 Chitral Upper-cum-Chitral Lower with a population of 515,935. Similarly, the largest proposed NA constituency in Punjab is NA-49 Attock-I with a population of 1,126,142, against the smallest NA-61 Jhelum-II having a population of 690,683. In Sindh, NA-209 Sanghar-I is proposed to have a population of 1,172,516, while NA-221 Tando Muhammad Khan is carved out a population of 726,119. In Balochistan, NA-255 Sohbatpur-cum-Jaffarabad-cum-Usta Muhammad-cum-Nasirabad has a population of 1,124,567 in contrast NA-261 Quetta-I has a population of 799,886.

For the PAs, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s largest constituency PK-93 Hangu (528,902) hosts almost three times the population of the smallest i.e., PK-1 Upper Chitral (195,528). Similarly, the largest PA constituency in Sindh, PS-75 Thatta-I has a population of 556,767, while PS-79 Jamshoro-II is the smallest with a population of 354,505. Punjab’s largest PA constituency, PP-177 Kasur-III has a population of 510,875, while the smallest PP-84 Khushab-IV has a population of 359,367. In Balochistan, PB-51 Chaman with a population of 466,218 is the largest constituency, which is two and a half times bigger than the smallest constituency i.e. PB-23 Awaran with a population of 178,958.

Such inequalities in the constituencies’ population may potentially result in a greater number of representations by voters. FAFEN calls upon the Election Commission to enhance the voter-friendliness of the process of filing representations on the draft constituencies. Currently, every voter seeking to file a representation on delimitation has to travel to Islamabad for its submission and subsequently for hearings at the ECP Secretariat, which bears additional costs and efforts. ECP may consider allowing submission of the representation at its district, regional, and provincial offices.

Similarly, the hearings on these representations may be arranged at the provincial level. FAFEN also urges the ECP to direct the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to promptly publish on its website the census block-wise data of population as under Rule 12(2), voters would require this data for filing representations.

‘Novel’ justification for variations in delimitation

Iftikhar A. Khan
October 3, 2023

• ECP says parity required between different constituencies of a district, not a province
• Claims 10pc limit exceeded in 64 constituencies only
• PTI fears ‘indefinite’ delay in polls, requests CJP to intervene

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday justified the wide variation in the population of various constituencies in the preliminary delimitation scheme, saying parity only had to be maintained between populations of constituencies within a district, not the province.

Referring to an analysis by Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen), without naming the organisation, the election watchdog said the analysis regarding the preliminary delimitation report was based on a misunderstanding.

In a statement, the ECP said that under Article 51, 266 National Assembly seats have been allocated to the provinces on the basis of their population.

“Keeping in view the seats allocated to the provinces and their population, their quota was worked out on the basis of which seats were allocated to each district under rule 8(2) following which, keeping in view the population of the districts and the number of their seats, the delimitation was carried out,” it explained.

In a reference to criticism, it said the organisation did not regard the district as a unit to determine the seats while analysing the variation in population size of constituencies. “Rather, the quota of the province was taken as a unit and the basic administrative unit i.e. the district was ignored, which has created ambiguity,” the ECP added.

Electoral experts, however, disagreed with the position taken by the ECP, asserting that the law governing principles of delimitation was very clear and it talks about the population of constituencies of an assembly and not a district. They asserted that a rule could not amend or override a legal provision.

Section 20(3) of the Elections Act reads, “As far as possible, variation in the population of constituencies of an assembly or a local government shall not ordinarily exceed 10 per cent.” Sub-section 4 says, “If the limit of 10 per cent under sub-section (3) is exceeded in an exceptional case, the commission shall record reasons thereof in the delimitation order.”

In addition to the population during delimitation, the ECP noted, there are other principles which are mentioned in Section 20 of the Elections Act 2017, including administrative unit and homogeneity, which the commission has taken into account during the preliminary delimitation, it said.

The ECP claimed there was a difference of over 10 per cent in only 64 constituencies and said that the reasons for this variation had been recorded.

It said the facility to file a representation is provided in the law and rules to correct the errors in the initial delimitation. If such an error is found in the initial delimitation which is not allowed by the law, it will be corrected during the hearing of the objections, the statement added.

ECP meeting today

On the other hand, the ECP will meet today to discuss matters related to inviting international observers to monitor upcoming general polls.

The Elections Act empowers the electoral body to invite local or foreign observers to monitor the elections.

In a related development, the ECP has put off a consultative meeting with representatives of political parties on the code of conduct for elections scheduled for October 4.

The meeting will now be held on October 11.

PTI seeks CJP’s intervention

Separately, the PTI core committee on Monday urged the chief justice to immediately intervene to safeguard the sanctity and respect of the Constitution, as the caretaker government, the ECP, and some political parties, which were part of the previous PDM coalition government, were depriving people of the right to vote “for an indefinite period”.

According to a statement, the PTI leadership requested the CJP to take measures to protect the sanctity of the Constitution as holding elections within 90 days limit was a mandatory constitutional requirement in the case of premature dissolution of the National Assembly. The statement did not reveal where the meeting of the core committee was held and who chaired it.

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