The defence ministry has promised the Supreme Court that local body elections would be held in the country’s 53 cantonment boards by September this year – but the promise doesn’t seem realistic as even the 2002 Local Government Ordinance doesn’t apply to the cantonment areas, a senior official told The Express Tribune on Saturday.
Explaining the situation, the official from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that relevant legislation was still missing and in its absence LB elections could not be held in the cantonment areas.
The Local Government Ordinance 2002, which was promulgated by the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, has no mention of the cantonment boards, he said. “The cantonment boards are yet to be included in the process through new legislation,” he added.
The official said the then chief election commissioner, Justice (retd) Irshad Hassan Khan, had been told that the ECP would hold first two LB elections and afterwards it would become the responsibility of provincial governments.
According to the official, the ordinance expired in 2009 and thereafter it was the provincial governments’ responsibility to hold LB elections. However, the 18th Constitutional Amendment once again shifted the responsibility to the ECP.
The official said the ECP had asked the provincial governments to enact laws for a system of their own choice. “In 2010, all the provinces did enact legislation,” he added.
“At present, all four provinces have different legislation on the subject and it will be difficult for the ECP to hold elections. The parliament will have to legislate for a uniform system,” he added.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked the defence ministry to explain the reasons for a delay in holding of LB elections in the cantonment boards and the ministry had promised to complete the process by September 15.
On January 3, the court had ordered the federal government to hold LB elections soon after the expiry of the term on May 5 of the existing set-up run by military officers.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.