Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja said on Friday that the local body (LB) elections in Karachi will not be delayed in any case.
The CEC made the remarks during a hearing of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P)’s application regarding the objections to the voter lists in the Karachi municipal elections. During the hearing, the MQM-P lawyer objected that the use of the old voters’ list for elections is against the law. CEC Raja stated that the party has been approaching the courts even before this hearing and inquired “why doesn’t [the] MQM-P bring up all the issues at once?”
“If there is any other issue, bring it forward and we will decide together,” he remarked. The CEC also stated that the MQM-P also contested the 2018 election and by-elections and that the LB polls are being held on the same lists on which it contested the previous elections. In his remarks, the MQM-P’s counsel raised another objection and said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was incomplete on April 29, 2022. Irked by the remark, Raja stated that there is no mention of the ECP being incomplete in the submitted application by the party.
“Stick to the petition, don’t talk about other things. The elections will not be delayed in any case,” he added. On the other hand, Additional Advocate General Sindh Fawzi Zafar requested the court to give him time till next week to give arguments on the application. The electoral watchdog then terminated the Sindh government’s right to argue citing a lack of preparation. While giving his arguments during the hearing, a representative of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) told the ECP that “every possible effort is being made to postpone the local government elections.”
JI furthered that LG polls should be held on January 15. In his remarks, Special Secretary ECP Zafar Iqbal took the stand that with “every passing day, people are eligible to vote, if MQM-P’s demands are accepted then the LB polls will never be held”. Moreover, DG Law ECP requested to reject the application of the MQM-P and said that voter lists are updated with time. He furthered that it was also clear in the press release that the LB elections will be held on the old list, adding that the election schedule was never withdrawn. Subsequently, the ECP reserved its decision on the petitions related to voter lists in the Karachi LB elections.
The second phase of the LG polls in the Karachi and Hyderabad divisions is scheduled to be held on January 15. It may be recalled that Karachi and Hyderabad were supposed to hold the second round of LG elections on July 24, 2022. However, the Sindh administration excused itself from holding the polls over the lack of security and police presence because of the flooding. Later, the local body elections were rescheduled for August 28, 2022.