RAWALPINDI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked the Military Lands and Cantonments department to carry out fresh delimitation of wards for the local government elections to be held next year.

The tenure of the current cantonment boards across the country will expire on Dec 9.

The regional election commissioners of 48 cantonments have formed committees to start the delimitation process.

The new delimitation will be based on Census Block Scheme 2017.

The commission also asked the deputy commissioners to coordinate with the Military Lands and Cantonment regional directors to appoint members of committees for the new delimitation.

Local government elections were held in 48 cantonment boards across the country in April 2015 on the directives of the Supreme Court and the members were elected for four years.

For the first time, the elections were conducted under Political Parties Act.

Though the tenure of elected members of the cantonments expired in April, the ECP extended the date to Dec 9. As elected members of all the cantonment boards had taken oath on different dates, it was decided to fix Dec 9 as the date of expiry of their tenure to maintain uniformity.

Sources said in the new delimitation it was expected that the number of wards will increase due to rise in population according to the 2017 census.

“The election commission has made it clear that the delimitation of cantonment boards has become imperative after the census 2017,” a senior official of the Military Lands and Cantonment told Dawn.

He said Rawalpindi and Chaklala cantonments had 10 wards each but their number would increase. In the delimitation of Punjab, the number of union councils increased in many districts.

For example, the number of union councils in Rawalpindi city increased from 46 to 70.

The official said in Rawalpindi district, there were five cantonment boards - Rawalpindi, Chaklala, Taxila, Wah and Murree.

“For the committee for delimitation of wards in Rawalpindi, Chaklala, Taxila and Wah, District Election Commissioner-I Raham Zada has been appointed convener while for Murree Cantonment District Election Commissioner-II Saleem Akhtar will head the committee,” the senior official said.

However, he said members of the committee would be appointed by the deputy commissioner and the cantonment executive officer.

He said the delimitation would be completed within three months after seeking public hearing and receiving objections from the residents.

He said after the dissolution of boards, mini-boards would be formed to run the day-to-day affairs in cantonments under the leadership of respective station commanders.

On the other hand, the last meeting of the cantonment boards of Rawalpindi and Chaklala will be held next week.

Chaklala Cantonment Board (CCB) Vice President Raja Irfan Imtiaz told Dawn that the tenure of the elected members would expire on Dec 9.

“The delimitation will be started on the schedule issued by the election commission but there will be no chance of local government elections,” he said.

He said the PTI government had failed to start the process of local government in the province and it may use delaying tactics to further delay in cantonment elections.

He said the elected members were ready for fresh elections in next 120 days.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019