The Supreme Court had directed the provinces to hold local bodies (LB) polls at the earliest but the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday dropped the hint that it would not be possible to hold the elections in 2013.
“The provinces are likely to request the commission to hold the LB elections in the first week of December and afterwards the commission would need at least 60 days for preparations,” said the ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan.
However, Khan shied away from pronouncing it clearly that the LB elections would be held next year.
The sources said a province required 90 days for legislation, delimitation and completion of rules, adding that no province had taken necessary measures to hold LB polls, while the provincial governments had also failed to inform the ECP about their intentions and preparations.
The ECP secretary said Punjab was the only province which did not want to hold the LB elections on party basis. “On the other hand, Sindh and Balochistan want to hold elections on party basis whereas Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) plans to hold them on party basis, partially,” he added.
Explaining the K-P plan, he said the province would hold elections on non-party basis at the village-level whereas elections at the tehsil and district levels would be held on party basis.
He said Punjab Local Government Act 2013 had been challenged in Lahore High Court (LHC). “The matter is sub judice and we cannot move forward without a decision of the court.” Opposition groups had challenged the act in LHC saying that to hold elections on non-party basis was in violation of the constitutional provisions.
Talking about the tasks to be performed by the ECP, the secretary said the commission had printed 200 million ballot papers for the general elections but for local government elections the number would rise three times to 600 million.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2013.