ECP decides on LG polls in Karachi, Hyderabad on Jan 15

Electoral watchdog rejects Sindh govt’s plea for postponing polls by another three months

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday announced the reserved verdict on local government (LG) elections in 14 districts of Hyderabad and Karachi divisions, which will now be held on January 15.

The verdict on the petitions against delay in the local government polls in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions was reserved by a five-member bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on November 15.

The Sindh government’s request to postpone the elections for three more months was rejected and the election body directed the Sindh Police inspector general and chief secretary to provide security for the exercise. In a notice issued on November 16, the ECP said that the announcement of the order had been set for next week.

The time for announcing it was set at 10am, but it was extended to 3pm. In this regard, notices had been issued to the Sindh chief secretary, inspector general of Sindh Police and Interior Ministry secretary. Heads of all the political parties participating in the polls were also issued a notice to attend.

The ECP had taken up the case after the conduct of second phase of local government elections in the province were deferred on one pretext or another at least three times.

First, elections were deferred over concerns such as rains and urban flooding. Thereafter, it was deferred on account of flooding in several parts of the province where elections were to be held. It was deferred for a third time after the Sindh government cited security issues and an inability to secure the polls since police were deputed on various duties including in flood-hit areas and in Islamabad. Maintaining its inability to spare sufficient staff, the Sindh government said that it could not hold elections, but it would be better that it was held in two stages in 14 districts of Karachi and Hyderabad divisions.

Terming the LG elections “the nursery of democracy”, PTI Sindh President Ali Zaidi hailed the decision. Speaking to media outside the ECP, Zaidi said, “Today the decision has come only after the matter was dragged around in courts.”

“The first phase of the elections had looked like a battlefield,” he continued, “shots were fired, batons were charged. Nobody’s candidate was being permitted to stand in the first phase, he alleged, “finally the second phase is going to be held now on January 15”. “All of the people’s problems are solved through municipal elections,” he added.

On November 18, the ECP had decided to put off local government elections in Karachi for a third time on Sindh’s request while it asked the Punjab government to legislate on the local bodies within a week or hold the polls based on the previous laws.

The decision to postpone local body elections in Karachi was made in a meeting chaired by CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The huddle reviewed the Interior Ministry’s letter in which it had expressed its inability to provide security personnel for the local government elections.

The federal government had also asked the electoral body to decide about conducting local government elections in the port city after consulting with the Sindh government.

Hanif Samoon is a senior journalist based at Thar/Badin and contributes reports from different districts of Sindh to Minute Mirror. He has won a number of awards, including the Agahi Award twice for his stories on health and child rights. He tweets @HanifSamoon1 and can be reached through email at hanifsamoon@gmail.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here