Local body polls on same day to cut costs: Provincial election commissioner

Published October 23, 2021
The Election Commission of Pakistan had set Dec 19 and Jan 16 as the dates for the two phases of local body polls in the province.
 — AP/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan had set Dec 19 and Jan 16 as the dates for the two phases of local body polls in the province. — AP/File

PESHAWAR: Provincial Election Commissioner, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shareefullah on Friday said the holding of elections for the village, neighbourhood and tehsil councils on the same day would significantly reduce costs.

On Thursday, the Election Commission of Pakistan had set Dec 19 and Jan 16 as the dates for the two phases of local body polls in the province.

Accompanied by Joint Provincial Election Commissioner Mohammad Fareed Afridi, director (elections) Khushalzada and director (local government) Zulfikar Ahmad, the PEC told a news conference that schedule for the first phase of elections in 17 districts would be announced in a couple of days.

He said elections would be held in 1,936 village councils, 423 neighbourhood councils, and 63 tehsil councils of Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda, Khyber, Mohmand, Mardan, Swabi, Bajaur, Haripur, Kohat, Karak, Hangu, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Tank and Malakand districts on Dec 19 and in18 districtson Jan 16 next year.

KP election commissioner says e-voting machines won’t be used

Mr Shareefullah said the provincial government had proposed the holding of local body elections separately.

He said electronic voting machines won’t be used in the polls.

Responding to a question about possible difficulties for elections in snow-bound areas in the month of January and campaigning by candidates, the PEC said if the provincial government struggled to make arrangements, it could approach the ECP with a request for a little delay in elections.

About the army’s deployment for the security of polling stations, he said the provision of security for the electoral exercise was the responsibility of the provincial government with the consultation of the ECP.

The term of local governments in the province had expired on Aug 28, 2019, and the ECP was bound by Section 219(4) of the Elections Act, 2017, to hold the local body elections in the next 120 days. However, it didn’t happen for two years due to the provincial government’s reluctance to go to the polls over the people’s anger at record price hike.

The ECP’s decision about the same day local body elections has ‘virtually nullified’ the provincial government’s efforts and amendments to the relevant law allowing it to hold elections for both tiers of the local bodies in a staggered manner.

The provincial government had amended Section 79 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, 2013, empowering it to hold the LG elections separately for the village and neighbourhood councils, and tehsil councils.

The provincial election commissioner held the news conference in light of the detailed order issued on Thursday (Oct 21) by a three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The ECP directed the provincial government, chief secretary and local government secretary to make all necessary arrangements and take requisite steps for free, fair and smooth conduct of elections in the province in assistance and aid of the Commission Office to take all necessary steps in this regard, accordingly.

It said every province by law was to establish the LG system and devolve political, administrative and financial powers to the elected representatives, while the ECP was empowered to conduct the local body elections.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2021

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