The Supreme Court’s (SC) deadline of September this year, given to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the provincial governments to hold Local Bodies (LB) elections is a good step. Certainly, these polls, necessary to offer people the governance at the local level they so badly need, are essential. It is unfortunate there has been so much delay in holding them, and more unfortunate still that, at least, two provincial government insist that they require still more time to conduct them.
The SC had set July 17 as the deadline for the provinces and the ECP to issue a definite date for the conduct of the elections. Since this did not happen, on July 18, it set its own date. During the hearing, Punjab stated that it needed at least 90 days to organise the polls, while Sindh said that it would require no less than five months to get things in place and move to a stage where the LB polling process could be held. As the Supreme Court has pointed out, the postponement in the polls is an obvious breach of the Constitution and the law of the land. Given this, it becomes the responsibility of governments to ensure that the process moves ahead smoothly and in a timely fashion. It is hard to understand why governments should face such a difficult time in managing this. They had, after all, known for a considerable period that the polls would be necessary.
It is also true that the presence of local bodies can play quite a large part in determining how the lives of people move on. This makes it all the more essential that every possible effort be made to put these institutions in place through the vote of the people. The fact that this has not been done is not at all encouraging. We must hope the Court’s intervention in the matter will set things straight and persuade all the provinces that the polls must be held, and that there is no getting away from this regardless of the issues they see standing before them and obstructing their path in one way or the other.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.
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