In view of the slow progress in conducting local bodies (LB) elections in the provinces and the capital, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has finally decided to call a meeting of all the stakeholders on Thurday where all issues pertaining to the conduct of LB polls will be discussed to reach a final solution.
The Supreme Court deadline, of September 15 to hold the polls, came and passed and none of the provinces or the capital territory bothered to hold local bodies elections. In fact, all the provinces have lagged behind.
Acting chief election commissioner Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani has called interior ministry secretary, chief secretaries of all the provinces, secretaries of the local government ministry and National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) chairman for a meeting on Thurday.
Sources in the ECP told The Express Tribune that since local governments have become a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment in 2010, different provinces are opting for different systems. This, the ECP officials believe, would create many administrative and legal complications. Punjab wants to hold LG elections on a non-party basis, while other provinces might go for party based polls.
Similarly, in different systems, the powers of nazims and mayors can be different according to the system adopted by the provinces which may lead to legal complications later. ECP is likely to urge the provinces in Thurday’s meeting that it would be better if they bring some uniformity in their LG laws.
The ECP officials argue that at least the tenures of local governments of different provinces should be the same otherwise the country would be under what they call ‘election fever’ at all times, since one part of the country or the other would be conducing polls.
ECP will also ask the provinces in the meeting about the progress they are making on local government laws, delimitations and would consult them over appointment of returning officers.
On the table
• Party-basis vs non-party basis elections
• Laws on operational procedure
• Election Schedule
• Voters’ awareness programmes
• Appointment of returning officers
• Code of Conduct
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2013.