Local bodies: Govt set to extend election deadline

‘PML-N more interested in general elections, fears losing local polls’.


Anwer Sumra August 01, 2011

LAHORE:


The Punjab government plans to extend its deadline for issuing an election schedule for local governments by another year, having failed to formulate a new system, draw up boundaries for electoral wards or compile voter lists since it set the deadline a year ago.


The Local Government and Community Development Department, after consulting with the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department, will soon send a proposal to the chief minister for an amendment to Section 179-A of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance (PLGO) 2001, an official close to the development told The Express Tribune.

The Punjab Assembly approved an amendment to the same section in October 2010 which gave the government exactly 365 days to notify a schedule for local polls to the Election Commission. Now it plans to extend that date by another six months to a year, the official said.

The amendment bill approved last October also gave the government the power to appoint interim administrators exercising the power of nazims, naib nazims and union councils under the local government setup that expired in February 2010.

The official said that the chief minister should request the governor to promulgate an ordinance to incorporate the fresh changes to the Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2001, but the situation between the two was tense because of recent disagreements over administrative issues and appointments.

Farrukh Altaf, former district nazim of Jhelum, said that it was clear from its failure to make any preparations that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government had no intention of holding local polls. “They are for more interested in the next general elections,” he said. Altaf said that the PML-N did not want to share executive power, nor state resources, with local governments.

“They fear that they have no candidates for local bodies and elections will expose them,” he said.

He added that local representatives would take administrative powers and money from the Punjab government. “Right now they can exercise these powers and resources as they please,” he said.

Danial Aziz, the architect of the previous local government system and former chairman of the National Reconstruction Bureau, said that the Punjab government, by further delaying local polls, was hindering the development of a healthy democracy in the country.

Punjab government spokesman Senator Pervaiz Rashid was unavailable for comment.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2011.

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COMMENTS (1)

Tauseef Ahmed | 9 years ago | Reply

Why haven't our elections gone electronic / computerised like India's (total) and Brazil's (partial)? It has helped give a lot of power to the Indian Election Commission in curbing voting booth malfeasance and cut down significantly on the cost of elections to the public exchequer as well as increasing significantly the speed of tallying and publishing of results. I was reading recently in Egyptian press, how the Muslim Brotherhood has sought the assistance of the Indians to provide them the technology to conduct elections in Egypt, so that should in the event, the Muslim Brotherhood gain office (a statistically very likely outcome); its victory would be backed up with empirical data and not be likely dismissed by 'independent' / UN observers. It is a smart, strategic and technological masterstroke. It also, sets a lasting precedent of free and fair contest of polls. This is what we too in Pakistan must promote, because free and fair elections are the bedrock of a strong civil society as well as the foundation of a working democracy. It guarantees a peaceful transfer of power. These are all objectives, that the Pakistani state, must achieve to become truly progressive and politically mature. In Brazil, they go a step further, providing photographic images of the contestants to avoid any confusion, on account of similarity of name and agendas, due to illiteracy. Another aspect, that is widespread in our country. Pakistan has the necessary technical skills to develop its own EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) and EMS (Election Monitoring Systems). What stops a consortium of technology companies from developing this as a contribution to the nation? Nothing should.

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