ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday directed its scrutiny committee auditing accounts of three major political parties — the PTI, PML-N and PPP — to meet thrice a week to complete the process at the earliest.
Informed sources told Dawn that the commission, which met here with Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in the chair, expressed concern over delay in scrutiny process.
The ECP’s director general (law), who heads the scrutiny committee, held lawyers representing the parties responsible for the slow progress, saying that they remained busy in high courts, come to the committee meetings late and spend less time there.
Gives Punjab 15 days to propose dates for local govt polls
The sources said that the ECP meeting had basically been convened to consider matters regarding local government elections in Punjab. The Punjab government, under the directives given to it during the previous meeting, was supposed to propose date for LG polls in the province, but the provincial local government secretary expressed his inability to do so. He said the National Command and Operation Centre had recommended postponement of the polls due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The commission expressed its anguish, saying that the Punjab government appeared to be non-serious about conduct of the polls.
The ECP finally gave 15 days to the Punjab government to propose date for LG elections under Section 91 of the provincial LG law, which reads: “Through an order published in the official gazette, the Election Commission shall, after having consulted the Government on this matter, fix a date or several dates for elections to one or more electoral units under this Act and thereby call upon: (a) the voters of the electoral unit to elect the head of the local government and councillors; and thereafter (b) the councillors to elect the convenor.”
Section 91(2) reads: “Subject to the provisions of section 118 of this Act, the date or dates fixed for an election under sub-section (1) shall be no earlier than one hundred and twenty days from the date of publication of the order in the official gazette.”
The ECP also asked the Punjab government to get the names of village and Panchayat councils approved by Jan 10, and was assured that this would be done.
Local bodies in Punjab had been dissolved in the first week of May, 2019 and since then the provincial government, like other provinces, continues to drag its feet on fresh polls.
The commission was also given a briefing on gender gap among voters. It was told that gender gap in the electoral rolls stood at 11.7 per cent in 2019 but had now narrowed down to 10.7pc.
The chief election commissioner directed the ECP secretary to prepare a plan of action within 10 days so that a campaign could be launched to enroll women in the districts with massive gaps between male and female voters. It was also decided that a meeting of stakeholders would be convened soon.
According to the latest statistics of voters, over 100 National Assembly constituencies have a gap of over 50,000 between male and female voters.
The situation in NA-50 (South Waziristan) is the worst as the gap there between male and female voters exceeds the total number of women enrolled as voters.
In as many as 11 of the constituencies, the difference is over 70,000, including NA-5 Upper Dir (93,991); NA-48 North Waziristan (85,078); NA-263 Killa Abdullah (83,672); NA-250 Karachi West III (82,563); and NA-87 Hafizabad I (82,550).
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2021