ISLAMABAD: The top election supervisory authority announced on Friday to hold local government (LG) polls on reserved seats in Sindh and Punjab through secret ballot following a decision of the Sindh High Court (SHC).
The decision came days after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) postponed the elections on the reserved seats for indefinite period, saying thousands of cases were pending with tribunals against the elected members.
A petition had challenged proposed elections in Sindh through a “show of hands”, wherein numbers are estimated rather than counted. It also challenged the idea of polls through proportional representation in Punjab.
The ruling parties in both the provinces, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), were against the polling through secret ballot in an apparent fear of defects in the process.
Scrapping the provisions, the SHC called for polling through secret balloting, leading to announcement of a fresh schedule by the ECP.
According to the electoral body’s notification, polling for indirect seats of district councils, municipal corporations, district municipal corporations and metropolitan corporations will take place on February 20. Members elected on these bodies in direct elections will cast their votes to elect members on the reserved seats.
Polls for indirect seats of union councils, union committees, town committees and municipal committees will take place on February 22, it added.
Earlier, polls to elect members on reserved seats through indirect elections were to take place on February 8 in all district councils, municipal corporations, district municipal corporations and metropolitan corporations of Sindh.
Similarly, directly elected members of union councils, union committees, town committees and municipal committees were scheduled to elect members on reserved seats in their respective bodies on February 14.
In Punjab, elections for indirect seats of district councils, municipal and metropolitan corporations were scheduled for February 8, for municipal committees on February 11 and union councils on February 14.
The ECP is yet to issue a fresh schedule for elections in Punjab.
After election on reserved seats, local assemblies will elect chairmen and deputy chairmen. Similarly, mayors for large cities will be elected once metropolitan houses are complete.
The local governments are not functional in the two provinces since 2009.