ISLAMABAD - Showing apparent lack of interest in the submission of their assets details, an essential prerequisite for the allotment of electoral symbols, only 57 political parties out of the total 230 registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) submitted their statements of accounts, with ECP-prescribed deadline having expired on Thursday.

This number seems drastically less compared to nearly 150 of the 227 ECP-registered political parties that had submitted their assets details to get electoral symbols, in March this year.

Till the filing of this report (Thursday night), only 57 political parties had showed up on the ECP call to submit their accounts statements. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) happens to be the only mainstream national party that did not submit its assets details and sought a month's time in this regard.

Apparently, the lack of compliance on part of political parties vis-à-vis commissions' instructions on the assets details is linked to the electoral symbols allotment issue.

"Why would the political parties be interested in obtaining the electoral symbols at this point when the general elections including the by-polls have already been held and there are no fresh parliamentary polls insight?" asked the former secretary ECP Kanwar Dilshad.

A record number of 148 political parties had submitted their statements of accounts with the ECP this March in order to participate in May 11 general elections. Being part of the general polls, the by-elections saw the usage of the same electoral symbols.

In comparison with the pre-polls scenario, the poll authority issued multiple reminders since June this year for the political parties to submit with the commission their accounts statements but it did not get an encouraging response.

The Article 14 (1) of the Political Parties Order 2002, provides, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, for the time being in force, a political party shall be eligible to obtain an election symbol for contesting elections for Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) and provincial assemblies on submission of certificates and statement referred to in Articles 12 and 13.

"It generally happens that political parties show disregard to the ECP instructions once the parliamentary polls are held. But their isn't much the commission can do as far as non-submission of accounts statements by the political parties is concerned. The best it can do is to deny the non-complying parties the electoral symbols but that won't really make a difference at this stage," believed Dilshad.

The Article 14 (2) of Political Parties Order 2002, reads, where any political party or a combination of political parties, severally or collectively, contravenes the provisions of Article 12 or 13, it shall not be entitled to obtain an election symbol for election to the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or the provincial assemblies, and the election commission shall not allocate an election symbol to such party or, as the case may be, the combination of political parties for such election.

An ECP official, requesting anonymity, said, the deadline on the assets details was initially fixed at 4 pm (Thursday) but it was extended till midnight on account of the slack response from the political parties. The commission, he said, would continue to receive the accounts statements even after the deadline's expiry. "Officially, the deadline expires tonight but informally, we'll be accepting the accounts statements even afterwards," he said.

In a letter from PTI's Chief Election Commissioner Hamid Khan Advocate to Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmad Khan, the former has requested for a month's time period to submit the PTI's statement of accounts, which has been granted by the ECP. Reportedly, some transactions related to PTI's expenditure in the by-elections are pending due to which it has sought additional time.

The major political parties that have submitted their accounts statements include Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan People's Party-Parliamentarians, Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, Jamat-e-Islami and others.  Separate assets details have been provided for the PPP-P and PPP that are registered as separate political parties with the ECP.

The Article 13 of the Political Parties Order, 2002, provides that every political party shall submit to the election commission, within 60 days from the close of each financial year, a consolidated statement of accounts of the party, duly audited by a chartered accountant.