ISLAMABAD: For the third time this month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has postponed elections on thousands of reserved seats for local governments in Sindh.
The decision came a day after the Supreme Court issued a stay order against the Sindh High Court’s decision to scrap an amendment moved by the Sindh government to change the procedure of the elections. The polls had been scheduled to take place on February 20 and 22.
The new procedure introduced by the Sindh government relied on a ‘show of hands’ rather than secret ballot and was intended to prevent participants from voting against party lines. The SHC scrapped this amendment, declaring it a violation of the secrecy of the ballot.
The Sindh government subsequently challenged the high court decision in the top court, which on Wednesday issued a stay order and fixed March 3 as the date for the next hearing.
Local government elections for direct seats in Punjab and Sindh were held in three phases last year. The members elected in direct elections are supposed to elect members on seats reserved for women, labourers/workers, youth and non-Muslims.
The ruling parties of both Punjab and Sindh – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party, respectively – are not in favour of polling through secret ballot out of fear of defections.
Local governments in these two provinces have not been functional since 2009.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2016.
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