PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is dragging its feet on the holding of local body elections in the province as it has failed to provide the required data to the Election Commission of Pakistan despite the issuance of six reminders.
The KP Local Government Act, 2013, provides for the holding of elections within 120 days of the completion of the tenure of local bodies.
However, sources told Dawn that since the LGs tenure came to an end on August 28, the ECP had approached the provincial government on at least six occasions to furnish the data required for the delimitation of councils.
“Even if the KP government provides this data to the ECP today, which is impossible, the delimitation and other preparations will take at least six months,” a senior ECP official said. He said the local government department had yet to finalise rules for delimitation in the province even 24 days after the completion of the tenure of the last local bodies.
Official says delimitation to take six months after provision of data
The official said the ECP had asked the provincial government to produce the maps of urban and rural areas, official notification of the total number of village and neighbourhood councils in every tehsil, official notification of the limits of tehsil councils along with category-wise number of seats and limits of the city local councils along with category-wise number of seats.
Another ECP official said the commission had notified delimitation committees in line with the law but the requisite information for the start of delimitation had yet to be provided by the local government department.
He said the information in question was vital as the government had altogether changed the structure of the local government system and mechanism of the elections for tehsil and village and neighbourhood councils.
The provincial government has abolished the district tier but retaining the tehsil and village and neighbourhood councils through amendments to the law for local bodies.
Under the amended law, the tehsil council nazim will be elected directly on party basis, while elections for the lower tier, VC/NC, will be held on non-party basis.
“The delimitation of the tehsil and village and neighbourhood council will take at least three months,” he said, adding that two more months will be required to carry out rest of the electoral process.
The official said the ECP had to display the preliminary list of council delimitation at tehsil and VC/NC levels for appeal and voter objections.
He said an appellate authority would be formed to resolve disputes on council delimitation.
“The provincial government seems to be disinterested in the holding of polls over fears of the people’s adverse reaction to higher prices, economic crisis and increase in joblessness.
The official said under the KP Local Government Act, 2013, the local government department was responsible for the formulation of delimitation rules and provide the number of general seats and reserved seats for women, youths, peasant workers and non-Muslims in the tehsil and village and neighbourhood councils.
Sources said the information required by the ECP needed to be given after the cabinet’s approval, while the chief minister’s nod was also mandatory for putting such information before the cabinet.
They said the local government department had sent a summary to the chief minister for allowing the department to place that information before the cabinet but that summary had been shuttling among various offices.
Local government minister Shahram Tarakai was not available for comments on the matter.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2019