The Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday postponed the second phase of local government elections in Sindh due to heavy rains and the flooding situation in the province.
Polling was due to be held on August 28 (Sunday) in a total of 16 districts — East, West, South, Central, Korangi, Keamari and Malir of Karachi division and Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Badin, Sujawal and Thatta of Hyderabad division — in the second phase of the LG polls.
The decision to postpone the polls was taken at a high-level ECP meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on the basis of a report from the provincial election commissioner and district administration.
According to a press release, the ECP secretary told the meeting's participants that all the administration, police, and other security agencies were engaged in providing relief to the flood victims in Sindh and delivering food to the affected areas.
"The Sindh police has said in its report that about 50,000 police personnel were deployed for the elections of Karachi division, of which 33,000 were present in Karachi and the remaining 16,000 were to be called from other districts to ensure peaceful elections."
However, with the current flood situation, additional police personnel could not be deployed during the polls, it said, adding that even the Rangers and Pakistan Army troops were engaged in relief operations.
Hence, the CEC postponed the polls on the grounds of weather conditions, unavailability of law and order institutions during the election, logistics problems, public interest, and voter convenience.
"The new date will be announced when the weather conditions improve," the press release added.
The ECP had previously postponed polls in nine districts of Hyderabad until the weather improved. On Monday, almost all nine deputy commissioners (DC) of Hyderabad division and one DC of Karachi’s Malir district approached the ECP seeking the postponement of the Aug 28 local government elections.
Sindh is currently in the grip of a monsoon system that has caused heavy rains and catastrophic flooding. It is one of the worst-hit provinces, along with Balochistan.
'Never seen a greater catastrophe'
In a press conference today, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, while outlining the destruction caused by monsoon rains, revealed that there was not a single area in the province where floods have not wreaked havoc.
Read more: Climate catastrophe
People, he said, have lost their loved ones, homes, crops, and livestock in the rain. "More than 1,000 people are injured. Over 10 million people are homeless, as over 1.5 million mud houses have been completely destroyed.
"Crops spread of 2 million acres have been completely damaged. whereas it is difficult to estimate the loss of livestock," Shah said.
He went on to say that 23 districts of the province were the most affected by the rains. "The victims, especially women, elderly, and children are severely traumatised. I see tears in their eyes," Shah regretted.
The minister warned that a heavy flood was passing by Sukkur because of which people living on the banks had to evacuate their houses.
"I have never seen a greater catastrophe in my life," Shah said, vowing the Sindh government was using all of its funds but had run out of essentials such as tents and food.
He also requested the Centre, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and the people of Sindh to donate relief items and provide aid for residents of the disaster-struck areas.