ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) asserted on Friday that there was no other way of holding elections on reserved seats in local governments of Sindh except through show of hands.

Speaking at a press conference here, PPP parliamentary leader in Senate Saeed Ghani said it was the constitutional obligation of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct elections on reserved seats in local bodies of Sindh on party basis as this was also unavoidable in the light of orders of the Supreme Court, claiming that show of hands “is the only appropriate mode”.

What prompted Mr Ghani to speak to journalists was the ECP decision of postponing upcoming phase of local government elections on reserved seats in Sindh — a part of which was to take place on Feb 8. A petition pending before the Sindh High Court was cited as a reason in the notification issued by the ECP on Thursday.

ECP decision on election postponement criticised

Senator Ghani said it was on record that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) had jointly written to the ECP to hold elections on reserved seats the through show of hands procedure.

He said that the Sindh government, in order to avoid any controversy, had decided to amend the law through the Sindh Assembly to provide for the procedure of show of hands for elections to reserved seats — something which would not suit to those who believed in winning electoral contests through what he called manipulations.

“That is why the MQM and the Pakistan Muslim League-F have challenged the amendment in the Sindh High Court,” the PPP leader said.

Alleging that the purpose was clear to buy time to get voters’ loyalties changed through coercion and other methods, he said that the ECP had also apparently acted out of fear or a behind the scene understanding to postpone polls on the basis of a mere legal challenge in the absence of any stay order from the court.

Senator Ghani said that the ECP should ensure smooth conduct of elections as per the law and being an autonomous constitutional institution.

“However it (the ECP) is bent upon committing violations to provisions of the constitution and existing law of the country,” he claimed.

The PPP leader said that the ECP had once again proved that it not only lacked the capacity to perform but in fact it was scared of certain political parties.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2016