Seeing the scale of mismanagement in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s local government polls last month, election authorities are warming up to the idea of a phased poll in Punjab and Sindh.
In what can be called a hard-earned lesson, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) shared the proposal with local government secretaries of Punjab and Sindh in a meeting recently held at the ECP headquarters.
Sources in the ECP told The Express Tribune that the ECP shared with the secretaries the experience of the May 30 K-P polls. “These officials have agreed to the ECP proposal. However, they will give a final response soon,” said an official privy to the development.
The credibility of the K-P polls was widely questioned after a series of administrative blunders. Both the ECP and the K-P government continue to blame each other for all that went wrong.
The ECP claims that it had advised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led K-P government to hold the LG polls in three stages – with some districts going for the polls in the first phase, some in the second and the rest in the third phase.
The ECP said the provincial government did not take the proposal to heart, arguing that the results of the first phase would serve as a trend in subsequent phases.
As per orders of the Supreme Court, local government elections in Punjab and Sindh are due on September 20. Given the size of the population and expected number of contestants in these two provinces, holding of the LG polls will be a much bigger and even more complicated administrative exercise.
The ECP has asked the LG secretaries to discuss the proposal of phased polls with their respective provincial governments and respond within a couple of weeks so that the ECP can carry out its plans accordingly.
“There are 147,000 officials on election duty in the K-P. For Punjab and Sindh,however, you can well imagine how much administrative staff will be needed. The number of constituencies in the LG polls are always much greater than the general elections for national and provincial assemblies,” the official said.
Once their governments give a go ahead, the ECP and both the provinces will jointly approach Supreme Court to allow some relaxation in the dates of elections, he added.
Elections in these two provinces are due since 2009 when the last local government system, introduced in 2000 by former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, expired. After restoration of democracy in 2008, the provincial governments have been deferring the LG elections on one pretext or the other.
Under the proposed amended plan, it is likely that the ECP goes for phased LG polls in one of the two provinces first, followed by a similar exercise in the other province.
Preliminary list of constituencies
The district election commissioners appointed by the ECP as delimitation officers have published the preliminary list of constituencies (union councils and municipal committees) specifying the areas proposed to be included in each constituency of Punjab and Sindh.
According to ECP, these lists will remain exhibited in the specified offices for 10 days.
Any voter in the constituency can file objections against the boundaries marked for the constituencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2015.