ISLAMABAD: Local leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday challenged the notification for the election of local government in the federal capital.

The petition, filed with the Islamabad High Court (IHC), cited the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), principal secretary to the prime minister and interior secretary as respondents.

The federal government on May 21 issued a notification to increase the number of union councils (UCs) from 50 to 101, the petition stated, adding that the ECP issued the schedule for elections of the local government without increasing the notified numbers of UCs.

The court has been requested to set aside the ECP’s notification. The commission, on June 2, issued a schedule for the local government election in Islamabad, which will be held on July 31.

The local government completed its five-year term in Feb 2021 and elections were slated to be held within three months, but the same were not held as the previous government wanted to get the election conducted on the basis of new delimitation, increasing the numbers of UCs from 50 to 101.

However, the PTI failed to get the Local Government Act 2015 amended from the parliament to increase the number of seats.

Resultantly, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided to hold the elections on the basis of the previous act and now the numbers of UCs will remain the same (50). The last elections were held in Nov 2015, won by then ruling party in the centre, PML-N. Subsequently, PML-N leader Sheikh Anser Aziz was elected as the first mayor of the capital city.

However, neither PML-N nor PTI paid heed towards strengthening the local government setup, which completed its five-year term without power and funds in February last year.

Later, the PTI claimed that it was going to introduce a new act for election of a mayor, however, in its three years in power, it could not get the proposed act passed from parliament.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2022

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