All in favour say ‘aye’: MPAs agree to delay local govt elections

Problems in campaigning and printing of ballot papers among reasons given for delay .

Hafeez Tunio November 11, 2013
"The govt wanted the elections on December 23 but pressure from the judiciary led ECP to announce November 27," Sindh local government minister Sharjeel Inam Memon. PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI/EXPRESS


The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Monday to delay the local government elections, saying that if held on November 27, the elections would not be “fair and transparent.”

The resolution was moved by a lawmaker of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), followed by separate ones by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League - Functional (PML-F) and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N).

During the session that was summoned mainly to pass the resolution, majority of the legislators demanded at least a three-month delay in the elections. “The process of delimitation is still going on and candidates have only 48 hours to campaign,” said senior PPP minister, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, adding that at least 60 or 90 days should be given for the electoral campaign. “The provincial government is in favour of giving candidates a reasonable period of time but certain elements are trying to make this election controversial by insisting to follow the November 27 deadline. We are clear in our demand that the elections should be held in March 2014.”

The MPAs were in agreement that under the recent election schedule announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan, it would be difficult to deliver free and fair elections.  They also agreed that conducting the polls in haste would cast a doubt on the credibility of not only on the process, but also the results.

The first resolution was moved by PPP MPA Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, also former nazim of Sukkur district. “The printing of ballot papers as defined by the law can only be carried out by the Printing Corporation of Pakistan which has shown its inability to do this job. The printing of ballot papers by any private printing press may not be acceptable as it would make the transparency of the election questionable,” he said.

Four other resolutions on the same point were moved by MQM’s Faisal Subzwari, PML-F’s Nusrat Seher Abbasi, PML-N’s Irfanullah Marwat and PTI’s Syed Hafizuddin. “The sovereign political will of this house must prevail in a democratic process of election which has to be transparent.”

PPP’s MPA Dr Sohrab Sarki requested all political parties to publicly announce that they would not participate in the “rushed” election, saying, “This is the best way to get rid of the current election schedule which binds us to hold them on November 27.”

Subzwari, who is also the opposition leader in the assembly, made it clear that his party wanted the local government elections to take place but it was only possible after delimitation was complete. “The mourning of Muharram is under way - how can candidates start their campaign?” he asked. “The boundaries of union councils have yet to be determined. In these circumstances, no one will have an idea about the jurisdiction of their areas. It is not humanly possible to hold free and fair elections within very limited time.” However, at a press conference held later in the evening by MQM’s Rabita Committee, Haider Abbas Rizvi called for an extension in the submission date of nomination papers till after Ashura, saying that the party did not want the elections to be postponed.

According to Irfanullah Marwat, some areas of his constituency have been moved to district East and they have submitted objections to the tribunal that is supposed to resolve the issue on November 13. “I request the election commission to let us resolve disputes over constituencies, otherwise this election, which is being imposed, will be declared null and void in the future.”

Syed Hafizuddin said that there should be collective wisdom, otherwise the election being held in haste will yield negative results and break all past records of rigging.

On the role of the election commission, Mehtab Akbar Rashdi of PML-F said that it should act as an independent body and take stand by its own decision rather than getting dictation.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th,2013.


HH | 8 years ago | Reply

MPAs don't want to transfer powers to the local governments in the first place. Democracy? Huh!

Karachiwala | 8 years ago | Reply

delaying tactics.. if they can get general election in 2 to 3 months.. what could stop them for local bodies? scare of mqm ...

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