EC's decision on poll date delayed till tomorrow

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Islamabad, Jan 1 (UNI) Election Commission of Pakistan has once again put off a final decision on the general elections saying the final date of the polls will be formally announced tomorrow after consulting political parties.

''We have decided to consult the political parties on holding polls on January 8 in light of the damages to the election machinery caused by the recent riots,'' Secretary Election Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad told reporters here.

When asked about postponing polls in selective districts, the Secretary Election Commission denied any such possibility.

''Elections would be held on the same date across the country,'' Mr Dilshad said, adding that the commission had received recommendations from the provincial governments to take into consideration the rituals during the month of Muharram also.

While he was reluctant to say elections would be postponed, one official told UNI the polls would be delayed and might be held sometime after February 11.

He said it seems impossible to hold elections on January 8, as it might further deteriorate the law and order situation.

Election material in 14 districts was burnt or badly damaged and it might take some time to fulfil the logistics requirements, he said.

The sources at Election Commission claimed that the provincial governments had not described the situation as ideal to hold polls In some areas, the authorities would not be able to ferry the polling staff to respective sites safely, if the present situation continues to prevail, the sources added.

The PPP and the PMLN have been calling for the Commission to stick to its schedule of January 8, while the PML-Q has been pushing for the polls to be delayed by at least two months.

UNI XC SYU GC1740

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