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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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EditorialLocal council polls

Local council polls

The Sindh High Court has again asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to issue the schedule for local body elections in Karachi and Hyderabad within 15 days, adding that the polls should preferably be held within 60 days, as the Sindh government sits on the schedule for the phased local council elections. The ECP has postponed voting in seven Karachi districts three times at the request of the Sindh administration. It was initially delayed owing to weather, then due to flooding, and finally due to a security manpower shortage. The leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) claims that the Sindh administration has very obviously perfected the art of postponing local government elections indefinitely, probably to prevent the emergence of any alternative political leadership at the third tier. To win elections for the provincial headquarters administration, both parties have put forth impressive electioneering, but in vain. The Murad Ali Shah administration recently decided to postpone Karachi’s second round of voting for three months.

When the Sindh government claims it lacks the administrative and police personnel needed to organize elections in Karachi, it is attempting to hide behind flimsy justifications. The provincial administration may very well come up with a new justification to postpone the elections after the 90 days are up. The CEC has requested that the Sindh government seek Punjab for more police officers. The ECP must keep up the pressure on the Punjab and Sindh governments and demand a specific date for municipal elections. The province chief secretary and the inspector general were instructed to make sure that “any preliminary or organizational procedures” are done in advance of the SHC CJ, who also ordered the government to make sure the electoral watchdog receives the necessary help.

In a related ruling, Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh of the Sindh High Court SHC stated that the court would “not go so far as to dictate the date of the election or direct how the same ought to be conducted or policed, but would note that the ECP may notify the polling date, preferably within a period of 15 days from the date of this order, specifying a new polling date […] to preferably conclude the overall exercise of the election in any event within that period.”

Local councils must be recognized for their significance by the Sindh government. The PPP’s lack of interest is a result of the possibility that its obvious short votes in Karachi may lead to defeat at the polls. The PTI, which won the majority of Karachi’s NA seats in the most recent general elections, is more focused on winning Karachi’s local councils. To protect their constitutional right to elect local representatives, the people of urban Sindh will therefore be looking to the ECP.

Hopefully, the new schedule is on its way in the given time – two weeks.

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