ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is unable to comply with the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s directive requiring the commission to announce the date for local government elections in all four provinces of the country and the federal capital Islamabad today.
“We can do it only after the provinces carry out the delimitation [of electoral constituencies] exercise and publish it in the gazette,” an ECP official said over the weekend.
He pointed out that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Islamabad have not yet framed local government laws, an exercise to precede fresh delimitation, adding that an important meeting of the ECP would be held tomorrow to discuss the progress made by the provinces.
All provincial chief secretaries, the chief commissioner of Islamabad and the chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority
(Nadra) will attend the meeting. Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Tassaduq Jilani will be in chair.
Committees formed to discuss different aspects of the coming local government elections would also meet in Islamabad for three days starting from tomorrow and submit their reports to the ECP by October 30.
“We can say that a clear picture as to when holding of local government elections will be possible will emerge by the end of this month,” the official said.
At the last meeting, held on October 3, the provinces had assured ECP that they would complete the prerequisites for holding of polls by the end of next month.
He said once the provinces would propose dates for LG polls, the ECP would have to see if it was administratively possible and accordingly adjust the dates.
He said provinces wanted holding of local government polls on old census blocks while the electoral rolls had been prepared in line with the new census blocks.
The official said various other technical aspects were required to be thoroughly deliberated upon.
The implications of holding non-party based election are supposed to be examined. He said different kinds of nomination papers had been prepared by provinces and their criteria for qualification and disqualification had dissimilarities. The official said the ECP had been writing to provinces since the passage of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution in 2010, asking them to frame local government laws and go for delimitation.
The official said governments in Punjab and Sindh provinces could rightly be blamed for slackness as the provinces were ruled by same parties which were in power before the 2013 general elections.
It would be unfair to hold governments in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces responsible for any delay because political parties ruling these provinces had been in power only for around four months, he added.
The official pointed out that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was very serious about holding of early local government elections.
He said other arrangements, including printing of ballot papers, deployment of security staff, appointment of election tribunals and appellate tribunals, voters’ awareness campaign, establishment of polling stations were among the multiple tasks required to be carefully looked into to avert a fiasco in unnecessary haste.