The Election Commission of Pakistan has postponed delimitation of constituencies for local government elections in Sindh at the request of the PPP accepting the latter’s plea that redrawing of electoral boundaries can only be undertaken after the 2017 census report is finalised. There is, however, no word either from the government or the ECP when the final census results will be announced. The relevant law stipulates that local body polls should be held within 120 days after the completion of fresh delimitation of constituencies.
The elected representatives of the previous LG set-up in Sindh completed their four-year tenure on Aug 30. Recently, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had said LG elections would be held within 120 days of the completion of delimitation of constituencies but at the same time had seen it fit to remind that the delimitation process could begin only after the Council of Common Interests accorded its approval to the 2017 national census. He had stated that the 1998 census was still in force in Sindh, so fresh local government elections could not be held on the basis of more than two-decades-old census.
On the face of it, the provincial government’s stance on LG elections looks justified. However, the fact that the same PPP government had no objection to the holding of general elections for both national and provincial assemblies in 2018 on the basis of the same old census raises doubts about its intentions. Seemingly the provincial government looks shaky about its prospects in the next LG polls, especially its chances of winning big in major cities, so it might be buying time to formulate strategies to win in those places where formerly it could not win many seats. It is not difficult to understand to what end is the provincial government applying different yardsticks to various levels of elections. To the electorates, the LG polls have not been denied altogether; they have only been delayed.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2020.