ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday announced the schedule of the much-delayed local government elections in the federal capital under which around one million voters will elect their representatives on December 24.

Elections in Islamabad were long overdue as the last local government - Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) - completed its five-year term in February last year.

The elections should have been held within four months, but the government and the ECP failed to do the same.

After the inordinate delay, the ECP has issued the schedule to hold elections in 101 union councils of Islamabad.

Around one million voters will elect representatives from 101 union councils

Sources in the ECP said over 984,000 voters would cost their votes to elect their local representatives.

Elections are going to be held under the Local Government Act 2015 on the basis of which the previous polls were held. Though members of the previous MCI on many occasions criticised the act saying it had many loopholes, both the PTI and PML-N could not make any changes to the law.

According to the schedule, on November 1, the ECP will issue a public notice inviting nominations and will give five days - from Nov 7 Nov to 11 - for filing the papers. Similarly, after completing various phases, the ECP on December 1 will allot symbols to the contesting candidates and polling will be held on December 24 (Saturday).

Earlier this year, the ECP had issued a schedule to hold the elections on July 31, but all the major parties - PML-N, PTI and PPP - filed court cases demanding an increase in the number of union councils from 50 to 101.

Meanwhile, the government issued a notification to increase the UCs from 50 to 101 but the court had to stop the process with a direction to the ECP to first complete the delimitation of 101 UCs.

In the last elections held in 2015, PML-N and PTI candidates gave tough time to each other.

That elections were won by PML-N and subsequently Sheikh Anser Aziz was elected as the first mayor of Islamabad.

However, the MCI failed to deliver as it could not get due patronage of then the ruling party, the PML-N.

The MCI was not given any funds from the federal government nor its financial rules were finalised for proper disposal of works.

Later, PTI came to power at the centre but it too did not pay any heeds towards the MCI.

As a result, the first ever local government completed its tenure in February last year even without paying due honorarium to the UC chairmen.

On the last day in their office, the UC chairmen were seen making efforts to get their honorarium but to no avail. Throughout the five years, the CDA and MCI remained at loggerhead as MCI was an offshoot of the CDA.

Meanwhile, once again, both the PML-N and the local leader of the PTI are claiming that they would win the elections.

The PML-N besides having sizeable vote bank has the government at the centre while the PTI has a strong vote bank as it had won all the three National Assembly seats in the 2018 general elections.

Therefore, interesting contests are expected between the two parties.

The PPP also has a good vote bank in Islamabad and is also a coalition partner of the PML-N in the federal government.

Therefore, there are chances that these two parties will field joint candidates in many UCs against the PTI.

Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2022

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