Pakistan Gears Up for General Elections with Over 17,000 Candidates

Pakistan is set to hold its general elections on February 8, 2024, with a record number of candidates vying for the seats of the National Assembly and the four provincial assemblies. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued the list of contesting candidates, revealing that a total of 17,816 candidates are in the fray, out of which 11,785 are independent and 6,031 are affiliated with political parties.

According to the ECP, the National Assembly has 4,807 male, 312 female and two transgender candidates, while the provincial assemblies have 12,123 male, 570 female and two transgender candidates. The ECP has allotted electoral symbols to the candidates and issued Form-33, which contains the details of the candidates, their party affiliation, their symbol and their constituency.

The ECP official told The News that a large number of candidates withdrew from the elections due to various reasons as per the law. He said that the ECP has also published the final list of delimited constituencies on its website and in the gazette.

Among the political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has fielded the most candidates for the National Assembly, with 1,780 males and 93 females, followed by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with 1,273 males and 81 females. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has 1,068 male and 69 female candidates, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has 216 male and 12 female candidates.

The independent candidates, however, outnumber the party candidates, with 3,027 males, 219 females and two transgenders for the National Assembly. Similarly, for the provincial assemblies, the independent candidates are 8,537, including 8,147 males, 388 females and two transgenders.

The ECP official said that the independent candidates have the option to join any political party within three days of the declaration of the election results, as per the law.

The ECP data also shows that Punjab has the highest number of candidates for the provincial assembly, with 6,710, including 6,246 males and 464 females. Sindh has 2,878 candidates, including 2,693 males and 185 females. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 1,834 candidates, including 1,763 males, 63 females and two transgenders. Balochistan has 1,273 candidates, including 1,233 males and 40 females.

The ECP official said that the ECP has also received 2,373 appeals against the acceptance and rejection of nomination papers by the returning officers. Out of these, 178 were against the acceptance and 2,195 were against the rejection of the papers. He said that the appellate tribunals have decided 1,611 appeals in favour of the candidates and rejected 762 appeals.

The ECP official also warned the public of a fake WhatsApp account of the chief election commissioner (CEC) with his photograph, which is being used to spread false messages and propaganda. He said that the ECP has lodged a complaint with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to take action against the culprits. He urged the public to verify any information from the official sources of the ECP and not to fall prey to any fake news.

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