The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has expressed its inability to conduct general elections within three months, citing various legal hitches and procedural challenges as the reason.
A senior official of the ECP told Dawn that the preparations for the general elections would require at least six months.
According to the report, some of the major challenges facing the snap elections are fresh delimitation of constituencies, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the number of seats had been increased under the 26th Amendment, and bringing district- and constituency-wise electoral rolls in conformity.
"Delimitation is a time-consuming exercise where the law provides for one month's time just to invite objections," he said, adding that another one month was required to address the same.
He said a minimum of three months would be required to complete the exercise, followed by another gigantic task of updating voters' lists.
Meanwhile, the procurement of election material, arrangement for ballot papers and appointment and training of polling staff were also among the challenges.
The official said that under the law, ballot papers with watermarks were to be used which are not available in the country and would have to be imported.
He further revealed that the ECP had proposed to amend the law to provide for ballot papers with 'security features', instead of 'water mark'.
About the election material, he said some two million stamp pads would be required for around 100,000 polling stations. "This is just one example. Other materials in huge quantity, including scissors and ballpoints, will also have to be procured," he noted.
The official also said that inviting bids and scrutinising financial and technical quotations would also require some time.
Referring to some legal hitches, the official said that under Section 14 of the Elections Act, the ECP was to announce an election plan four months prior to the polls. He said the law requiring the use of EVMs (electronic voting machines) and giving overseas Pakistanis voting rights also held the field and had to be repealed.
The official said the commission had already announced the schedule for local government (LG) elections in Baluchistan, setting 29 May as the polling day, while the process was also underway to hold LG polls in Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad.
"We will have to drop the plan for LG polls, if general elections are to be conducted," he noted.