ISLAMABAD: Ahsan Iqbal, the minister for planning, development, and special initiatives, said on Tuesday that the 7th digital population and housing census, which will be conducted in 2022, will serve as the basis for the Oct. 2023 general elections.
The minister stated in a speech to digital media influencers that the previous general elections were based on an outdated census and that Sindh has conditionally agreed to hold the elections in 2023 using a new digital census.
Mr. Iqbal stated that as a result, “the government will not take any action which makes the entire election process controversial.” He also stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) would formally receive the digital census results from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) in April 2023 and take four months to process them.
The minister noted that the Council of Common Interest (CII) had decided to base the upcoming elections on a new digital census and that previous prime minister Imran Khan had supported that decision.
Additionally, he said that the elections could not be held before October 2023 because of recent floods, which had severely devastated two provinces.
The minister responded to Imran Khan’s call for early elections by asking, “What message would go to the flood-affected people if elections are declared before the present government’s mandate is over?
Since his government was overthrown by a vote of no-confidence in March of this year, “he has been demanding immediate elections, but this is an unfair demand,” he said.
The minister claimed that after a false narrative about Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was published in the Daily Mail, the newspaper instantly came under fire and apologized.
He claimed that since the government took office, various projects have been initiated that the previous administration had abandoned because no advancement had been achieved on the CPEC projects over the previous four years.
“The current administration has resumed work on Gwadar International Airport after the previous administration had halted it. In the same vein, two Gwadar transmission lines have resumed and will be operational in January 2023,” he continued.
Iqbal stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will officially receive the digital census from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) in April 2023 and that the ECP will then take four months to complete the delimitation.
The federal minister added that various projects that were put on hold by the previous administration since no advancement had been made on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects over the previous four years have now begun under the coalition government.