Tuesday, November 22, 2022
KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday announced that local government elections would take place on January 15, 2023, in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja — who headed the five-member bench comprising Nisar Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana, and Justice (retd) Ikram Ullah Khan — announced the verdict that the commission had reserved on November 15.
The commission directed relevant authorities including Sindh government, chief secretary, and the inspector-general of police to ensure local body polls are held on the said date under Article 220 of the Constitution and asked to ensure sufficient number of security personnel are available for election duty at the polling stations, offices of the district returning officers, returning officers (ROs), polling staff and transportation of polling material from and to the offices of the ROs.
In its verdict, the commission wrote: “Further Federal Government through Secretary Ministry of Interior is directed to provide sufficient number of security personnel from other law enforcement agencies, in accordance with the security plan for the conduct of Local Government Elections in Karachi and Hyderabad Divisions, in a peaceful manner. The office is directed to take further necessary action accordingly.”
The LG polls in Karachi were first postponed in July due to the monsoon rains in the city. The Sindh government had repeatedly sought the rescheduling of dates for the election.
As a result, the ECP deferred the local government elections multiple times due to the non-provision of security from the provincial government, which refrained from providing law enforcement personnel citing floods.
The elections were initially scheduled for July 24, but they were delayed due to "bad weather and rains". Then, polling was set to take place on August 28 and October 24, but the provincial government refused to provide security.
In its latest move to delay the polling further, the provincial cabinet had earlier this month approved delaying local government elections in Karachi Division for another 90 days under Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.
Last week, in a similar case, the Sindh High Court had directed the ECP to announce a new schedule for the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.
In its verdict on the pleas of PTI and JI, the high court directed the commission to announce a new schedule for the local body polls in both cities.
"We would not go so far as to dictate the date of the election or direct the manner in which the same ought to be conducted or policed, but would note that the ECP may notify the polling date, preferably within a period of 15 days from the date of this order," the order mentioned.
The court demanded the ECP to specify a fresh polling date and preferably conclude the overall exercise of the "election in any event within a total period of 60 days".