Further delay?

Published October 4, 2022

KARACHI Administrator Murtaza Wahab’s announcement that the second phase of Sindh’s LG polls — primarily affecting Karachi and Hyderabad — could be delayed yet again, is dismaying for all those who realise the value of an elected third tier of government. If the decision to delay the polls is taken, it would be the third time the second leg of the crucial electoral exercise would be delayed. While the first leg was conducted in June, the second phase was supposed to be held in July but was put off till August due to Muharram security concerns as well as the forecast for heavy rains. That was seen as a justifiable move as the province was battered by record-breaking rainfall this monsoon. The August date was also understandably revised to Oct 23 as Sindh was then in the midst of a massive flood emergency. Now it seems the October date, too, may pass without elections, as Mr Wahab said police personnel from other districts would be unavailable for poll security in Karachi. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has himself been quoted as saying in the media that LG polls are not possible “in the next few months”. Meanwhile in Punjab, the governor has sent back the LG bill to the assembly with objections. Until the bill is passed, Pakistan’s most populous province won’t be able to conduct LG polls either.

The fact that Sindh and Punjab have dithered on the conduct of local polls reflects the mindsets of the mainstream parties. The sad fact is that self-professed democrats in Pakistan are afraid of empowering the third tier — the tier closest to the people — lest they lose their privilege networks. This has had a devastating effect on service delivery to citizens, especially after the Musharraf-era local governments were wrapped up. While parts of Hyderabad have been affected by flooding, there is simply no justification to put off the polls in Karachi, which has been unaffected by the deluge. Surely security can be addressed by utilising the present strength of police and Rangers. As for Punjab, the PTI-PML-Q combine that rules the province, and the governor, who represents the PML-N government at the centre, should not make the LG polls a political football, to be kicked around indefinitely to the detriment of the people’s welfare. Lack of an elected third tier is patently unconstitutional as it deprives people of the basic right to choose their local representatives.

Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...
Back to politics
Updated 29 Nov, 2022

Back to politics

PDM and PTI must realise that neither will get what they want if they keep fighting bitterly at every turn.
Election delay
29 Nov, 2022

Election delay

OF recent, leaders from the ruling PML-N have been dropping hints about a possible delay in general elections after...
Sugar woes
29 Nov, 2022

Sugar woes

IT’S that time of year again when cane growers get anxious over the delay in the commencement of the new sugar...