LAHORE: The Punjab government has proposed that the Election Commission of Pakistan hold local government elections in two phases – the first on May 15.

Speaking to Dawn, Punjab Local Government minister Mahmoodur Rasheed said the Punjab government was now ready to hold the local government elections and conveyed its readiness to the ECP.

Mr Rasheed said the second phase of the LG elections would be held within a month’s time.

He said the delimitation process was ongoing and added that the ECP would notify the final lists of delimitations in Punjab on March 22. The PTI government dissolved the local governments created under the PLGA 2013 on May 4, 2019, as it was repealed upon the promulgation of the PLGA 2019. However, on petitions of the then local governments’ representatives, the Supreme Court issued a short order on March 25 last year declaring PLGA 2019’s Section 3 ultra vires to the Constitution.

As the PTI government had recreated the local governments and appointed local government administrators on May 4, 2019 – some 30 months ahead of the completion of the tenure of LG representatives mostly belonging to the PML-N, the local government department had reverted the local governments’ transition back to the PLGA 2013 in line with the Supreme Court order.

Following a detailed Supreme Court judgment in July last year, the Punjab government restored the local governments under PLGA 2013 on Oct 18 and the former LG representatives had taken over their offices.

The former LG representatives’ tenure eventually concluded on December 31 and the Punjab government notified dissolution of local governments in the province and appointed administrators till the election of new representatives.

Sources say the local government department had plans to revert back to the PTI government’s transition plan only after the upcoming LG elections.

The new Punjab Local Government Ordinance reached the Punjab Assembly and Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Parvez Elahi asked the PTI government to take the opposition on board. The treasury-opposition consultations are currently in progress.

Mr Rasheed earlier on Wednesday met Chief Minister Usman Buzdar at his office and discussed holding local government elections.

The chief minister endorsed that the Punjab government was fully committed to holding the local government elections without any delay adding that the new Local Government Act would herald the development era in the province.

The chief minister said the enforcement of the new Local Government Act would resolve public issues on their doorstep, adding that direct election would ensure real change in the local bodies’ politics. He said the new law had been devised with hard work to timely resolve problems through village councils and neighbourhood councils.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2022

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