ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Com­missioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on Friday made it clear that the forthcoming second phase of local government (LG) elections in Sindh would not be put off again and reserved the verdict on an MQM-P’s petition.

The MQM-P has challenged the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for prospective use of two separate electoral rolls in the upcoming local government polls simultaneously.

The CEC was heading the three-member bench which took up the MQM-P petition on Friday.

During the course of hearing of the petition, the chief election commissioner told the lawyer representing the MQM-P that he had gone to various forums, but this issue was never raised before.

Verdict reserved in MQM-P’s petition

He also asked the lawyer to raise any other issue so that they could be clubbed together.

The CEC also rejected the lawyer’s statement on dual electoral rolls and said he was trying to give a wrong impression.

“You think you can get the elections delayed when your arguments are irrelevant so far,” he told the lawyer.

CEC Raja also stressed that the local government elections in Karachi would not be delayed anymore, saying that it was the Election Commission of Pakistan’s job to conduct elections.

After multiple delays, the ECP had on Nov 22 finally announced that the second phase of local bodies polls in Karachi and Hyderabad would be held on Jan 15.

Announcing the verdict that it had reserved on Nov 15, the election watchdog asked the Sindh government, the chief secretary, and the provincial police chief to provide the sufficient number of security personnel for election duty at the polling stations, offices of the district returning officers, returning officers, polling staff and transportation of polling material from and to the offices of the ROs.

“For its part, the government of Sindh is directed to ensure that requisite assistance, whether by way of adequate security or otherwise is rendered to the ECP in the matter, as per Article 220 of the Constitution, and the chief secretary of Sindh and the inspector general of police are to ensure that any preparatory or organisational steps as are required for the purpose of taken well in advance of the dates so that any and all impediments in that regard are surmounted by then,” the ECP said.

The commission had also asked the federal government and the interior secretary for a “sufficient number of security personnel from other law-enforcement agencies” to conduct elections in a peaceful manner.

The term of the local governments in Sindh expired on August 30, 2020, and the commission was under a constitutional and legal obligation to hold elections within 120 days after the expiry of the tenure.

The second phase of the local government elections in Sindh was scheduled to take place on July 24, but it was postponed due to unprecedented rains and flooding in the country, particularly in Sindh. The electoral body rescheduled the LG elections for August 28, but they were put off again due to the same reason.

Published in Dawn, january 7th, 2023

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