ISLAMABAD: The Election Commi­ssion of Pakistan (ECP) will announce its verdict on holding local government elections in the Karachi division on Tuesday (today).

A five-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja reserved the verdict on Nov 15 after hearing the pleas against delay in holding the polls.

During the Nov 15 hearing, Jamaat-i-Islami leader Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, MQM’s Waseem Akhtar, Karachi Administrator and PPP leader Murtaza Wahab and Sindh inspector general of police appeared before the commission.

ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain had informed the bench that polls were initially postponed due to rains but the Sindh government later postponed them for another 90 days.

Joint Secretary Interior Muhammad Ramzan Malik told the ECP that the ministry could not provide civil armed forces for election duties.

The bulk of security forces was still busy in the flood-affected areas of Sindh, he told the bench. “We are not in a position to fulfil the security needs of local government elections.”

Karachi Administrator and Sindh government Spokesperson, Murtaza Wahab, said the second phase of elections was postponed twice due to rain and flood.

He also added that due to the shortage of personnel, it was not possible to provide security and administrative staff for the elections.

When Mr Wahab said the Sindh cabinet had postponed the elections for 90 days, an ECP member interjected and asked how the cabinet could use the commission’s authority.

“As per the law, it is the Sindh government’s authority to announce local body elections,” he said.

The Sindh Police chief also endorsed the government’s stance to delay the elections saying that any untoward incident could happen since there was a shortage of 17,000 personnel.

“We can hold the elections on the commission’s orders but will face security issues,” the IG said. “In the 2015 polls, 17 people were killed and 30 injured in the violence.”

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2022

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