The second phase of the local government elections slated for August 28 seems likely to be postponed for the second time as the deputy commissioners of two districts of Karachi and eight districts of Hyderabad division have written to the Election Commission of Pakistan in this regard, citing monsoon rains caused devastation.
The deputy commissioners of various districts of Sindh have recommended to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to postpone the second phase of local government (LG) elections for 45 to 60 days due to heavy rainfall and flood situation in the province.
The letters were written separately by the DCs of Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Dadu, Matiari, Tando Allahyar, Sujawal, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, and Malir and Keamari districts of Karachi on Monday.
The district administrators in their separate reports about arrangements for local bodies’ elections said that several polling stations have come under water due to rain and flood making election process impossible.
The Provincial Election Commission of Sindh will send the consolidated report to the Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday in the light of these recommendations.
Malir Deputy Commissioner report maintains that the monsoon rains have made many places inaccessible besides several roads have been washed away.
The government of Sindh has also declared two of the union councils as disaster-hit areas.
Malir DC further stated that while efforts are being made for drainage of rainwater before the polls, the district administration cannot guarantee smooth conduct of the elections.
Keamari deputy commissioner in his report said that the returning officers of the district have informed him of extra ordinary damage caused due unprecedented rains of up to 1,000mm during the monsoon season, due to which rainwater was still accumulated in some areas.
The situation in several polling stations in Mauripur Town, Baldia Town and Behar Town is not good, the DC said, explaining that 65 per cent of the polling stations are submerged in water where access is not possible.
The returning officers have also termed the conduct of the second phase of elections as difficult. For this reason, local body elections should be postponed for 60 days.
“The LG elections scheduled to be held on 28 [August] instant are not possible on that day due to destruction and inaccessibility of buildings of schools, health institutions and other places which have been declared as the polling stations,” wrote the DC Hyderabad Fuad Ghaffar Soomro.
He also cited Pakistan Meteorological Department’s rain forecast for the coming days as a yet another obstruction.
He urged the ECP to delay the polls for 30 days. “In view of the circumstances, it is requested that the LG elections may kindly be postponed for at least 45 days as conduct of the elections and supply of the election materials at this point throughout the district isn’t possible,” wrote DC Jamshoro Capt (r) Faridududin Mustafa, who is also the District Returning Officer (DRO).
According to him, 375 out of 452 designated polling stations in Jamshoro, which make around 70 per cent of the total, are either inaccessible or were inundated. He also referred to the reports of the Returning Officers who highlighted same problems in their communication with the DC office.
The DC and DRO Badin district Agha Shahnawaz Babaur apprised the PEC that 65% of the polling stations are not ready for the polls because of inundation or access issues. “The unprecedented rainfall has resulted in loss of lives and damages to the roads, buildings, houses and crops,” he stated. He sought postponement of the polls for 60 days.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2022.
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