LG elections delayed in federal capital

Fresh after agreeing to conduct a new delimitation exercise in Islamabad and raising the number of union councils, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to postpone local government elections in the federal territory.

This comes after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) pleading to extend the date for the local body polls.

In his petition, PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, through his counsel Adil Aziz, urged the court to direct the ECP to increase the number of union councils in Islamabad and hold LG elections after new delimitations. The electoral body subsequently agreed to increase the number of union councils. The ECP has stated that it will announce the new schedule within 65 days after completing the delimitation, explaining, “We have to complete delimitations in 600 wards which will require at least two months.”

Meanwhile, the ECP retracted the schedule for 50 union councils in Islamabad and announced the decision to make 101 new ones.

Earlier, the election commission had stated that delimitations would be finalised before the announcement of the LG polls schedule.

It also requested the court to order the government to cooperate with the ECP and fulfil its constitutional duties as it alleged that governments tend to cause hindrances in local body elections.

In May, the ECP had withdrawn the schedule for Islamabad LG elections soon after setting the timetable for holding polls on July 17 citing technical deficiencies.

The IHC on Wednesday directed the ECP to announce a new local body election schedule for the federal capital within 65 days after the delimitation of 101 union councils.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the case filed by PML-N and PPP.

The officials of ECP informed the court that the institution could hold local government elections within 60 to 65 days after the delimitation of new union councils.

The chief justice remarked that there were some complaints related to the allocation of votes, so the votes shouldn’t be shifted from one ward to another.