QUETTA: Despite the Balochistan government’s request to postpone local government (LG) elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has started preparations for holding polls in the province.

LG secretary Imran Gichki has written a letter to the ECP asking it to conduct LG elections after July 15, but the provincial election commission has directed district authorities to start receiving nomination papers from April 15 to 18.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo has met Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in Islamabad and shared with him his government’s point of view on holding LG elections in the province.

“We have strong reasons for postponing LG elections until July 15,” he told Mr Raja, adding that LG polls in Balochistan should be held in one phase.

The Balochistan Assembly has already passed a resolution seeking the postponement of LG elections for six months.

The Awami National Party has also filed a petition in the Balochistan High Court (BHC) for putting off LG elections in the province for six months.

A BHC bench comprising Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Justice Rozi Khan Bareech accepted the petition for hearing on Tuesday and issued notices to the ECP and the Balochistan government.

Advocate Munir Ahmed Khan Kakar appeared before the court on behalf of the petitioner.

The high court adjourned the hearing till Wednesday (today).

According to a statement issued by the ECP, all returning officers have issued public notices, and nomination papers could be submitted to them from April 15 to 18.

Lists of nominees will be released on April 19 and nomination papers will be scrutinised from April 20 to 22.

Objections could be filed against the decisions of returning officers from April 23 to 26. The returning officers will decide on appeals from April 27 to 30. Revised lists of candidates will be posted on May 1.

Candidates will be able to withdraw by May 2 and they will be allotted election symbols on May 7.

The polling will be held on May 29 in all districts of Balochistan except Quetta and Lasbela.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2022

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