Pakistan: Poll panel to conduct online scrutiny of nomination papers

Islamabad: As the nation draws closer to voting, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced to conduct online scrutiny of nomination papers of candidates taking part in general elections this year.

Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan said on Monday the scrutiny of nomination papers of candidates would be conducted as per Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

The decision was taken at an ECP meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

It was decided the scrutiny process would take eight days and would also involve the FIA in the process for the first time. If any candidate was a defaulter from any department, the returning officer could be informed immediately.

The commission also sought recommendations from the government departments to make the process more efficient.

Briefing the participants, ECP Information Technology Director General (DG) Khizer Aziz said returning officers would send the details of the candidates including name, identity card number and constituency name to six different government departments. He said the returning officers would be able to get all the details of the candidates online.

Aziz expected that 30,000 candidates would submit nomination papers this year, adding that the number of candidates in the 2013 elections was nearly 26,000.

The officials attending the meeting requested the ECP to send nominations to them at the earliest so the scrutiny can be conducted as soon as possible. Recently, the ECP concluded hearings of objections to the delimitation of new constituencies in the country in line with the latest census.

As the incumbent government’s term expires on May 31, the general elections are likely to be conducted in the last week of July or first week of August.

Around a hundred political parties are expected to file nominations but generally the major parties considered favourite to win the elections include the ruling party Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami National Party, National Party, Jamat-e-Islami and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

All major political parties are currently conducting a show of strength by holding rallies and meetings in major cities across the country.

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