Election authorities have approached the Supreme Court seeking permission to hold local government polls in Punjab and Sindh in phases. The request comes after massive administrative mismanagement was witnessed during the LG elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in May this year.
Sources in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) told The Express Tribune that a petition has been filed in the apex court before the Eid holidays. It requested the top court allow the ECP to hold LG elections in phases. Under the Supreme Court orders, the ECP should hold the long-delayed LG polls in Punjab and Sindh on September 20.
“Keeping in view the terrible experience we had in K-P where the LG polls were held in the entire province the same day, we want to organise elections in Sindh and Punjab in phases,” an official of the ECP said.
Due to administrative issues, the K-P polls held after a gap of 11 years were a chaos, resulting in questions over credibility of the whole exercise. The ECP and K-P government are blaming each other over the outcome of the polls. The ECP claims it had advised the PTI-led provincial government to hold the LG polls in three stages. The provincial government did not agree to the proposal, saying the results of the first phase will serve as a trend-setter in subsequent phases.
Given the population size and expected number of contestants in these provinces, the LG polls will be a larger and more complicated exercise, ECP officials say. After a blame game between the two, the ECP had been advising governments of Punjab and Sindh to go for staggered election in their provinces.
In a recent meeting LG representatives along with the ECP decided to jointly move a petition before the SC to permit polls in phases.
“There were 147,000 officials on election duties in K-P. For Punjab and Sindh, you can well imagine how much administrative staff will be needed if polls are held the same day. The number of LG constituencies is significantly greater than the general elections for national and provincial assemblies,” the official said. The SC earlier this year had given a final deadline of September 20 for LG polls in Punjab and Sindh.
Elections in these two provinces are due since 2009 when the last local government system that Pervez Musharraf introduced in 2000, expired. After the restoration of democracy in 2008, provincial governments have been backing out from commitments to hold local government elections on one pretext or the other.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.
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