ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has directed the Ministry of Interior to provide required documents for restarting the pending delimitation process for the upcoming local government elections in Islamabad.
The local government completed its five-year term in February this year. Later, the ECP was informed by the interior ministry that in the past there would be 50 union councils in the federal capital for the new elections.
Following this, the ECP started the delimitation process but stopped it when the interior ministry on July 6 withdrew its notification about the 50 union councils.
Since then the process has been halted, meaning the new local government elections could not be held anytime soon.
Process was stopped after interior ministry withdrew its notification about union councils in July
The ECP through a letter on September 7 reminded the Ministry of Interior about the pending delimitation process.
Citing minutes of a meeting held under the chairmanship of the chief election commissioner on August 5, 2021, with regard to delimitation process, the ECP said: “The representative of the federal government requested for one month time period for provision of the notification with regard to the number of union councils/local governments to be delimited in the federal capital and to enact a new Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act.”
The letter addressed to the Ministry of Interior stated: “Since a period of one month has already elapsed, it is therefore requested that the requisite information/documents/data may be provided at the earliest for future course of action.”
Following the meeting, the federal cabinet on August 17 had given the go-ahead to amending the Islamabad Local Government Act 2015.
The cabinet also gave approval for increasing the number of union councils from 50 to approximately 100, stating that each union council will comprise a population of 20,000.
An official of the ECP said as per the census held in 2017, the population of Islamabad was around 2.2 million.
On the basis of a union council per a population of 20,000, the capital would have around 100 UCs.
Under the new system, the mayor will be directly elected.
Sources said after approval of the new Act, the federal government will ask the ECP for delimitation of the union councils.
The first ever local government elections were held in Islamabad in Nov 2015 during the government of thePML-N. Following the elections, the mayor and deputy mayors belonging to the PML-N were elected in March 2016, but due to a weak law and because of lack of patronage from the federal government, the local government failed to deliver.
Even the representatives of the local government were not paid their due remuneration and they completed five year terms without having their offices.
When contacted, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Ali Nawaz Awan, who is an MNA from Islamabad, said a draft bill had been prepared and would soon be presented before the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases (CCLC).
“We are going to introduce a comprehensive Act for Islamabad so that elected representatives could serve their constituents at their doorsteps. Unfortunately, the previous system was a complete failure and in its five-year term the local government representatives could not deliver.”
He said in the new system, roles, sources of funding and powers of the local government system would be defined.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021