ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has prepared a tentative schedule for local government elections across the country but is not sure if it will be possible to hold the polls in accordance with the schedule.
Hours after a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, directed the ECP to hold the elections on the dates proposed by the provinces, a senior official of the commission said that a tentative schedule had been prepared and it would soon be placed before the commission for approval.
He said weekly holidays of the employees had been cancelled and ECP`s offices would remain open yesterday and today.
He said a meeting of the commission had been convened on Oct 28 to review the situation. The meeting will be presided over by acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Tassadug Hussain Jillani and attended by the ECP`s four members and the provincial election commissioners.
Another important meeting of the commission will be held on the following day, to be attended by provincial chief secretaries, chairman of the National Database Registration Authority, managing directors of Printing Corporation of Pakistan and Pakistan Security Printing Corporation and representatives of other departments concerned, including statistics andfinance divisions and interior ministry.
He said the commission would try to accomplish the task but there were huge gaps which required to be bridged by the provinces. Besides, preparatory work was yet to be undertaken by several organisations.
`We will not be responsible if anything goes wrong`, the ECP official said. Deficiencies in local government laws enacted by three provinces were bound to create problems at the operational stage and needed to be removed through amendments, he said.
He said that no province had provided head of account for the deposit of nomination fee to be paid by candidates. Provisions for submission of declaration of assets were also vague in almost all the laws. The official said there was no provision for appointment of district returning officers in the laws enacted by Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan.
And Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s draft law fails to mention appointment of district returning officers, returning officers, assistant returning officers and presiding officers.
He said some provinces had proposed that the names of local councils should be printed on ballot papers. Because of thousands of councils in each province, printing of separate ballot papers for each council will be a challenging task.
He said the provinces were carrying out the delimitation exercise on the basis of 1998 census and census blocks mentioned in it.
He said after the 2011 housing census conducted by the statistics division, the number of census blocks had increased from 102,000 to 140,000. The official said that the procurement, printing and transportation of 600 million ballot papers in different colours involved a lengthy process of placement of order, invitation of tenders, assessment of bids, release order in favour of successful party, taking the material to the press, its printing and sending it to returning officers which was estimated to require not less than three months.
`We have started work at the highest possible pace under the judicial pressure but I am not sure how we will manage,` he said.