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Uncertainty persists over LG elections

November 10, 2013

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It has been learnt that printing of nomination forms is continuing and a limited number of forms have so far reached the offices of returning officers. 
— File Photo
It has been learnt that printing of nomination forms is continuing and a limited number of forms have so far reached the offices of returning officers. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: There was a lot of confusion over the status of local government elections in Punjab and Sindh even after issuance of public notices by returning officers concerned on Saturday.

Although candidates for the polls can obtain nomination forms after issuance of the notices, many of them were unaware till the last minute about appointment of district returning officers, returning officers and assistant returning officers.

It has been learnt that printing of nomination forms is continuing and a limited number of forms have so far reached the offices of returning officers.

The provinces have not yet issued notifications about delimitation of constituencies, causing confusion among voters and candidates. Nobody knows whether he will be able to cast vote in the ward he voted in during the last LG polls or his vote will be enlisted in the rolls of another ward as a result of a hasty delimitation exercise.

Since the Supreme Court has directed the Election Commission to hold the elections on the dates announced by the provinces, it has not been able to complete the groundwork. The ECP has not even published handbooks containing guidelines for presiding officers and polling agents.

An official of the commission said nomination forms were also available at the Election Commission’s website, but conceded that many intending candidates in remote areas lacking internet facility would not be able to get the forms.

A resolution unanimously adopted by the National Assembly spurning the announcement of a hasty schedule and a petition filed by the Sindh government in the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry seeking postponement of the polls have compounded the confusion.

The resolution reflects a consensus among political parties that the elections must not be held in haste so that questions are not raised about their transparency.

The official said a meeting of the ECP on Monday would review the situation arising out of the resolution passed by the assembly.

He said the challenge of printing over 400 million ballot papers and procuring at least 2.2 million magnetised inkpads in a short time would also be discussed at the meeting.

The government has expressed its inability to print ballot papers during the prescribed period and the resolution has rejected the proposal of involving private sector in the task.

The Pakistan Security Printing Corporation has said it cannot print ballot papers in a short span of time because it is busy in printing currency notes, postal stamps and passports. The Printing Corporation of Pakistan has also said it is not possible for it to print ballot papers in such a huge quantity within the deadline.

The ECP meeting will coincide with the first day for submission of nomination papers by candidates in Punjab and Sindh.

They can submit the forms on Nov 11 and 12.