ISLAMABAD: The Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that local government elections in Sanghar district and in some union councils of Badin district will be held on January 23.

The ECP, which had postponed the polls in Sanghar twice because of the security situation there, issued a notification for the polls on Thursday after the Sindh government gave a green signal for the exercise.

The ECP notification has mentioned that the Sindh government has reported improvement in the law and order situation in the two districts.

Initially, the local government elections in Sanghar and Badin districts were scheduled to be held during the second phase of the polls on Nov 19, but the ECP postponed the polling on the basis of possibility of political clashes in Sanghar.

In the second phase of elections in Sindh, 2,571 of the 7,098 polling stations had been declared “highly sensitive” and the same number as “sensitive”.

The situation in Sanghar was so alarming that about 450 of the 614 polling stations had been declared “highly sensitive” and most of the others sensitive.

At a meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, the Sindh police chief had reportedly sought deployment of troops in all 614 polling stations in Sanghar, but the CEC had turned down the request.

The people of Badin district, however, used their right of vote as per schedule amid tense atmosphere due to internal rift within the two factions of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

In some UCs of Badin, the ECP ordered re-polling due to various reasons, including wrong printing of ballot papers or violence inside the polling stations.

Later, the ECP set Dec 17 as the date for polling in the two districts.

The ECP had to put off polling again when four people were killed and several others wounded due to an armed clash between supporters of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) just three days before the elections in Sanghar.

After the clash, the workers of the two parties also burnt at least six vehicles.

The ECP also postponed the polls in Badin after the incident.

Sources said the ECP was in contact with ministries of interior and defence for deployment of troops and Rangers in the two districts during the upcoming LB polls.

The sources said that the Rangers would be deployed inside and outside the highly-sensitive polling stations while the army’s Quick Response Force would be available close to all sensitive and highly-sensitive polling stations.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016

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