Nov 13, 2013

Local Government Election (LGE) in the country has been controversial – A thick cloud of incoherent among Supreme Court - Election commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Govt. at Federal & Provincial level.

Local Government Election (LGE) in the country has been controversial – A thick cloud of incoherent among Supreme Court - Election commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Govt. at Federal & Provincial level.
Current perspective says that Local Government Election (LGE) is in offing in the country, there is harsh debate in the assembly too to extend the date to do campaign for LGE by the respective candidates in the respective constituencies, re-scheduling the date & issue of party and non-party basis despite Supreme Court hammer-falling to hold election not later than Dec 7th 2013 across the provinces.
Such deadline given by Supreme (SC) Court no-doubt jolted the Govt. at federal & Provincial level as they were taking SC order not seriously rather has been deferring despite Election commission of Pakistan reminders to confirm the date when the provinces are going to hold LGE?, enabling the ECP to onward confirming SC accordingly.

The panic among MNAs/ MPAs emerged when the SC reprimanded & indicted Defence Secretary Asif Yasin Malik for contempt of court who failed to honor SC order & arranging local bodies’ election in Cantonment Areas.

The SC however ordered to hold local bodies’ elections in Cantonment Area either on November 27 or December 7 and gave the Govt. seven days’ time to decide which of these dates they will hold the elections, sources said.
And if the Govt. seems unable to make a decision, “the SC will restore the old system of elections” - Such deadline then woke up the Govt. to think about LGE otherwise they were not paying heed.

12 November was the last date for the filing of nomination papers in Sindh where the provincial government wanted to hold the polls on December 7 instead of November 27.
According to the ECP schedule, local bodies’ election will be held on November 27 in Sindh and December 7 in Punjab and Baluchistan & the date of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has still not been announced. The final lists of the candidates will be issued on November 19 after the phases of objections, scrutiny and appeals are completed.

The parliamentarians should have enacted the laws and parallel to them the LGE election should have been conducted in the provinces to give public representation at grass root level but it’s Govt. bizarre attitude who did not pay attention but neglected the importance of local govt. resulting multiples issues took place in the city that could sorted at city level if the existence of local govt. had its office.

SC considering deteriorating condition in cities across the provinces asked the govt. to hold LGE getting adamant to the govt. SC ordered ECP asking to hold election so that basic amenities of life where the people has been deprived off may get their problem sorted at local govt. level.
According to the schedule announced earlier by ECP to hold election on Dec 7th in Baluchistan & Sind for Nov 27th while for Punjab had been set for Dec 7th 2013 said ECP

ECP today (Nov 12th) received multiple complaints from Returning officers (RO) Sind and Punjab has extended 01 day more to accept nomination papers from the candidates, considering severe tense among the candidates and RO who wanted more time to clear the RO observation and filing nomination papers to fulfill the procedure mandated to file the papers said by Returning officer Naushera Sind.
A general complaints not only among govt. officials at federal and provincial level but candidates who are contesting LGE also raised objections that elections are being conducted in haste where two days are not enough to submit the nomination papers. Now according to new deadline given by ECP, the candidates can submit their nomination papers till 4:00pm on Wednesday (Nov 13th)

While in Baluchistan scrutiny of nomination papers could not start, the process was scheduled to be completed by November 11 where 2,074 candidates have filed their papers for 7,189 seats in Baluchistan.

On one side parliament house has passed a joint resolution not to conduct the LGE polls on December 7, while on the other side SC has ordered to hold the polls on December 7 at any cost.
A general perception among central & provincial govt. functionaries that SC unnecessary hastening to hold LGE in all the four provinces within a month whereas the ECP, itself administratively does not seem ready. , even the required stationaries such as readiness of 2.2 million magnetic ink-pad and 52 million ballot papers printing have been a big question mark which still have not yet been completed so how election within a month can be conducted.

Further, the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) has submitted report to ECP for conducting LGE its inability to prepare 2.2 million magnetic inkpads within a month as in one month only 600k pad can be readied and for 2.2 million it needs 4 months mentioned in the report. It further said that it needs payment of 30 million to move with the assigned task which still has not yet been credited to PCSIR the report said.

And today ECP got its petition rejected by SC where ECP had sought to extend the date to hold LGE as in such short time it could not be possible to conclude LGE across the provinces. But the Registrar of SC however having retuned the petition said to ECP that the petition can’t be heard and SC will upheld the verdict given on Nov 5th to hold LGE in the provinces by Dec 7th.

The latest development today in National assembly where unanimously it has passed a resolution asking ECP to hold LGE in 2014, though the ‘resolution’ has been passed in National & Sind assemblies but legally a ‘resolution’ can be a constitutional right in a democratic set up but from legal perspective it’s only a piece of paper and unless such resolution is accepted by the concerned agency i.e. ECP.

And ECP in its status has lost its stand as SC (on its top) has already ordered them to conduct LGE by Dec 7th so how ECP can override and overrule the order of SC, so ECP & SC are at loggerheads to extend the date for holding LGE in the country.

The resolution had been presented by PTI’s in national assembly stating that undue haste for holding of LGE will cause to open new complexity and be detrimental for the country, will open new corridor of tussles in between candidate and ECP, the resolution demanded that LGE be postponed by March 2014 but later the date had been expunged by the speaker.

The existences of local govt. bodies means that how it extends and apply the rule of democracy; only the right to vote and the right to contest election do not fulfill the requirements of a democratic rule.

The govt. which comes into being after election entails that how magnificently & meaningfully it is representing the constituencies & how productively support to use public goods & services making accessible for all without hindrance & abruptness,

In a statement the Minister said that all political parties of the country had opposed the given schedule of local body polls while certain religious parties also expressed their concerns on the polls due to Muharram Al Haram.
On one side parliament house has passed a joint resolution not to conduct the LGE polls on December 7, while on the other side SC has ordered to hold the polls on December 7 at any cost.

SC therefore should re consider the date for holding local bodies’ election in the country and certainly the credit will go to Chief Justice of Pakistan who of course has been helping & keeping the democracy to sustain in the country can’t be ignored said by Opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah in the assembly.
We are not ready, Govt. officials have been deputed and assigned special task to take care the mourners of Muharram-ul-Haram religious rites. Govt. officials and law enforcement agencies are busy particularly on 9th 10th Ashura day, extra contingent have been deployed across the province to safeguard the lives and properties during Muharram-ul-Haram procession said by an MPA Sind assembly. Any hast decision has made the transparency of polls suspicious before the time the minster said

Recent transfer of concerned govt. official from govt. printing press in up countries are the factor cropping into the way of LGE where bureaucracy have been asked by ECP that why such transfer came into effect at this time when the ECP moving ahead to conduct LGE, every coming day brings surprises for us to ensure local body election timely said Secretary of ECP.
For ECP conducting LGE through provincial govt. support no doubt it’s a mega task and ECP indeed have to do a lot said by Ishaq Dar minister of fiancé.

A well planned strategy to be adopted and complied with, related policy and procedure to be streamlined otherwise the same story will reopen as still the MNAs/ MPAs are claiming for forging and rigging votes in their constituencies, keeping High Court and Supreme Court busy in this tussles, ECP asking NADRA to dig out the ballot boxes, verify and submit the report & NADRA doing hectic efforts analyzing minutely every individual ballot papers, checking thumb impression with National identity card (NIC) & submitting its finding to ECP though its cost shifted on the claimant shoulder to bear however other govt. agency remained involved in this scuffle to prove who declared winner and who lost the General election.
An unending scuffle since 6 months has confined ECP who still verifying & arranging even re-polling at different location in the country in the light of the consequences of General Election held on May 11th 2013 & the claims of massive rigging in different constituency being received to ECP.

Hence to avoid of such U turn with Local Government Election, Election Commission Pakistan will have to do special drive & care, considering the mountain of objections it received from political parties. A good feedback now ECP has and we understand that it will ensure a tussle-free election as election mandates asks for free – fair and transparent said an MPA debating in national assembly.
Recent two claims have been filed by the runner in Sind High Court where the Election Tribunal Karachi has directed Farooq Sattar MNA, Central leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to file reply in an election petition where the petitioner Abdul Aziz Memon of Pakistan People Party (PPP) has alleged massive rigging at certain polling stations in the constituency NA-249 where Farooq Sattar had bagged 109,952 votes and Mr. Memon 64,974.

The petitioner however has alleged that polls were massively rigged in the constituency and asked the court to declare the NA-249 election results void.

Another claim against Manzoor Wassan of PPP MPA to the PS-32, a provincial assembly seat in Khairpur where runner-up candidate Mir Shah Nawaz Talpur has alleged for massive rigging.
As per Supreme Court, since 8 years no Local Body Election (LBE) has been held in the country & its Supreme Court pressure on the govt. & ECP to arrange immediately without further delay. Supreme Court as usual either takes Su-Moto or sends notices to the govt. to do this and do that.

However the current situation in provinces and helplessness of ECP has made the local govt. polls controversial.
As per ECP the laws are incomplete in Punjab while the preparations of Sindh Government for Local Bodies elections are also not complete.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Awami National Party (ANP) have announced to jointly contest the Local Bodies elections in Sindh - Meanwhile PPP has demanded postponement of LG polls in Sindh

More than twenty-two thousand nomination papers have been filed for seven thousand one hundred and eighty nine seats in the province.

Sources also said, if EC conducts election despite of all this situation then fingers will defiantly be raised on the transparency of polls.

Ministry of Finance has not released required Rs.6.3 billion for LGE polls to EC, which is already facing the shortage of funds.

LGE will be the first as it will be taken care by the provinces itself earlier the local system had been functioning under a central federally-constructed system.
Let’s see how amicably the tussle is sorted in holding local govt. election in the provinces under the supervision of Election commission of Pakistan (ECP) with a new date to be given by Supreme Court of Pakistan who had asked ECP to conduct by Dec 7th 2013
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