Political parties and the petitioners of the case have welcomed the Sindh High Court's decision to declare the amendments to the Sindh Local Government Act as unconstitutional and demanded the local body elections be held on time.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) parliamentary leader Faisal Subzwari said, "The elections should not be postponed at any cost. They should be held as per the schedule on January 18, 2014."
Speaking to the media at the Sindh Assembly on Monday, he said the provincial government should clarify its position over the date of the elections and respect the decision of the SHC. He said that the amendments in the local government act were introduced by the government in 'bad faith'.
In a press statement, MQM chief Altaf Hussain called the SHC decision a 'historic' one.
The party has also started its campaign for the upcoming local bodies' elections. At an event at Nine Zero on Monday, the party's deputy convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui said that they are confident about sweeping the elections again, and ready to serve the public. He said that the party's flags and posters would be put up in different areas. If they are provided security, they would set-up their election camps also, he added.
The party also announced that on January 5, 2014, the MQM plans to hold a grand rally at Jinnah Ground. Similarly, other petitioners who had challenged the delimitation and local government ordinance also lauded the decision of the SHC. "The ordinances promulgated by the government were illegal and the delimitation aimed to victimise opponent parties," said Pakistan Muslim League-Functional's Sindh chapter president Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi. The elections should be held on time on the basis of the old constituencies as notified in 2001, he demanded.
Jamaat-e-Islami's leader Hafiz Naeemur Rehman endorsed Rashdi's statement and alleged that the provincial government wanted to use delaying tactics in holding the elections. "We appeal to the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of Pakistan to turn down the provincial government plea for an extension," he said, adding that it was the second time the people have filed their nomination forms. Meanwhile, leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was among the petitioners against this law, agreed with the provincial government's stance to delay the polls for a few weeks. PML-N Sindh general-secretary Saleem Zia said that they wanted an impartial delimitation under the supervision of an independent body as mentioned in the court's order. "We do not ever support this process which is happening through politically-appointed deputy commissioners."
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2013.