LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has told the Punjab government to ensure compliance with its directions regarding the conduction of the local government elections in the province within 120 days after Dec 31, 2021— the last day of the five-year term of the local governments came into existence under the Punjab Local Government Act-13 — failing which it may exercise the option of passing “Order” as it did in case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad Capital Territory, Dawn has learnt.
“On the expiry of the term of Local Government Institutions on the 31st December 2021, the ECP is determined to conduct next LG elections in the Punjab Province, in any way, within 120 days as required under subsection (4) of the section-219 of the Elections Act, 2017. In case of lacklustre response or non-compliance of the directions, the commission may exercise the option of passing “order” as it did in case of KP & ICT,” the commission warned in a letter received to the local government and community development department.
The ECP had on October 14 rejected the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s plan to hold local government polls in the province in three phases, ordering it to complete the electoral process for the lowest tier of government by March 2022. Similarly, it also directed the relevant ministry to get the parliamentary legislation completed within a month regarding LG elections in the ICT.
The commission refers to a meeting of the provincial election commissioner with the local government and community development department secretary on October 27 regarding the conduct of the next LG elections in the province. It also mentions another meeting with a provincial minister in the presence of the secretary to appraise the election commissioner about enactments to be made and other necessary steps to be taken by the provincial government to ensure timely holding of LG elections in the province.
“The ECP has repeatedly directed to the Provincial Government to complete all the required legal and administrative arrangements and ‘to intimate the proposed date or dates for the conduct of LG elections during consultative meetings held with them as required under Section-91 of the Act ibid,” the letter by the joint provincial election commissioner, reads.
It mentions that the commission also wrote five letters to the department from time to time in 2020.
The commission also reminds a number of consultative meetings held with the Provincial Government on August 5, 2020, December 30, 2020, January 6, 2021, January 21, 2021, and April 19, 2021, for holding timely elections.
The commission in these meetings established the facts that the ECP is fully conscious of its constitutional obligations for holding elections in the province as required under Article-219 of the Constitution, but no result-oriented progress has been made by the government.
“The commission, keeping in view the situation, wants the LG department to convey to the Punjab Government that: “Necessary Laws / Rules governing the conduct of Local Government Elections in Punjab are required to be updated, if required. The up-dated Local Government Act-2019 and PLG (Elections) Rules-2021 may be provided to the ECP by November 30, 2021.”
The commission has also directed the government to provide it pre-requisite for delimitation of constituencies, such as notification regarding the number of villages and neighborhoods, an updated notification of all local areas showing notified population along with the documents relating to demarcation of local areas, copies of authenticated maps of LG showing the clear boundaries etc by November 30, 2021, positively to start the process well in time.
The ECP will start notifying ‘Electoral Units’ in the Official Gazette under section-84 and enlistment of electoral groups and will make all other necessary arrangements for the holding of LG elections under the relevant provisions of rules within the stipulated period.
Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2021