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Nov 21, 2013

Local Govt. Election seems dwindling due to eleventh hour surprises coming from Province and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) itself.


Local Government Election (LGE) in the provinces – A Yes & No position though not tapering off but have made the local govt. struck-dumb where they are confused over the dates forwarded them by ECP to hold local bodies election in the provinces.

Following the 'rescheduled date' notified by ECP that in Sind it will hold on January 18 2014, Punjab on January 30th and in KPK & Cantonment on February 2014.

The 'rescheduled date' was sought by ECP from Supreme Court (SC) as the initial date in Dec 2013 was not possible for ECP & Provinces to move forward due to multiple reasons mentioned in the letter sent to SC.
SC however granted extension emphasizing ECP to conclude it by Jan 2014, appreciating the efforts and inclination shown by the provinces to hold local bodies’ election, it’s a good sign that govt. seems serious for conducting local bodies election, Chief justice of SC acknowledged in the verdict (from the bench constituted team of 3 judges) after hearing the petition filed by ECP.

But today a quite new development has been reported in media that Sind Govt. has refused to hold Local Govt. Election (LGE) on Jan 18th 2014 referring Chief Minster Sind assertion for not conducting local body election on Jan 18th.
Besides this, a notification from ECP also circulated in electronic media stating the inability of Pakistan Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (PCSIR) that 2.2 million of magnetic ink-pad readiness cannot be possible before scheduled date.

However PCSIR has been advised to go for next option i.e. to prepare normal ink-pad which is though has less intensity and not similar to magnetic ink-pad keeping the print/ mark for 8-9 hours whereas a normal ink-pad lasts up to 3-4 hours only. ECP further stated that NADRA has also been notified accordingly though they have observation, said in the statement aired by all TV channels.
Here it reflects the immaturity & insincerity of ECP that the information which is being shared now with the nation should have been mulled and weighed the pros and cons for all anticipated issues before going to Supreme Court while asking for rescheduling the date for the polls.

The professionalism & the characteristic of the post say that it should have been sensed well. All administrative and technical factors pertinent to the preparedness & readiness for the poll whether it is stationaries or the division of the constituencies in the provinces i.e. delimitation (a burning factor) across the province, should have been discussed figuratively with al l stakeholders (playing their due role in local body election) instead hastening for extending the poll date.
The marathon gathering called upon by ECP & that convened on Nov 19th 2013 advising the stakeholders & runners to come with working strategy for holding local body election in the province, highlighting to come with expected barriers and its remedy with all nitty-gritty etc. ECP said in its press conference informing the approval obtained by SC to hold LGE election.

Unequivocally it was a good move by ECP but such compulsory-meeting could be conducted before approaching to Supreme Court for date extension as it was less important then readiness of home work at every level.
Since Supreme Court in its flexible attitude has been chasing the Govt. when it assumed office and asking to confirm when local body election in the provinces going to be held in the country.

But govt. has been adamant at federal and provincial level & procrastinating notwithstanding reminder from ECP to confirm a date that when provinces are conducting LGE but Govt. woke up when SC reprimanded and indicted for contempt of court to the defense secretary who did not confirm the date or arranged LGE in the Cantonment area the report said.
Then federal and provincial both assemblies started to talk on it and eventually they passed a resolution unanimously and submitted to ECP to extend the poll date.

The question comes ahead that why ECP did not quantify such a mountain printing of ballot papers, huge quantity of magnetic ink-pad and impact of delimitation on the poll emerging now in the provinces.
Such omission of course is a clear invitation of tussles among political parties that’s will take place after polling. If the magnetic ink-pad is not there &it has been replaced by a normal ink-pad which does not have ability to last for 8-9 hours but will remove its affects within 3-4 hours then how the Returning officer will ensure whether the voter has already casted the vote or he/ she is new.

So authenticity will be an issue that’s will make the poll suspicious & ECP will be revolving around examining the votes, checking thumb impression & NIC as still they are involved in rigging cases, even at some places re-polling is continuing. NADRA and other allied offices are still busy in postmortem of general election votes held on May 11th 2013.
Again delimitation has been a burning across the provinces, Karachi itself has been divided in 25 councils with 8 districts, a policy decision or concerned gazette notification to be circulated among govt. functionaries in Sind.

Punjab, Baluchistan & KPK have some issues in delimitation which have not been closed. Such issues (which is being faced now) should have been covered in the meeting that held in Nov 19th but before going to SC so that every stakeholder could arrive at the same page and ECP could bind them in one knot.
Among other issues came into discussion on Nov 19th at ECP office apart meeting other pre-requisites Sind & Punjab had been asked to amend in local bodes laws by November 28.

For Islamabad had been asked to frame rules and meet other related pre-requisites otherwise ECP can hold polls as per earlier laws as the laws for Islamabad and the Cantonments have not been repealed as yet.

Sindh however had requested more time to get ready for the electoral exercise but it was turned down.

However printing of nomination papers and ballot papers i.e. 110 million for Sind & 300 million for Punjab are crucial for its completeness in given time frame.

Referring towards debate on LGE most were of the view that why the federal govt. did not pay heed as soon as the 'oath taking ceremony' completed at federal and provincial level and even the Govt. in its office since 6 months, necessary legislation could have enacted to hold local body election in the country but neither federal nor provincial govt. realized the importance.

TV anchor in the ongoing Talk show & others emphasized to have such clauses included into the constitution if it was not there & govt. should have been sincere to incorporate.

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