ECP stands firm, says Sindh LG polls as per schedule on 15th

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said on Saturday that the second phase of local body elections in Sindh will be held on Jan 15 (tomorrow) as per schedule, according to an ECP source.

As per sources, the electoral watchdog once again rejected the Sindh government's request to postpone the local body (LB) elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.

The development came after the commission held a meeting under the chairmanship of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja following a letter sent by the provincial government seeking the postponement of LB polls. 

Earlier in the day, a letter issued by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government – a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune – had requested the ECP to postpone the LG polls in Karachi and Hyderabad. 

The letter was sent less than 24 hours after the ECP had rejected the provincial government's initial request for the postponement of local body polls, saying that elections will be held tomorrow as per schedule.

The electoral watchdog had suspended the notification of the Sindh government against the Sindh LG Act, 2013. It had also rejected the provincial government's request to postpone elections in Dadu district due to the post-flood situation.

Read ECP cannot reject Sindh govt’s decision to delay LG polls: Memon

However, the ruling PPP sent a letter to the ECP again and maintained that its decision to postpone elections in Karachi and Hyderabad was made due to the “non-availability of Pakistan Army and Civil Armed Forces for static deployment at the polling stations”.

The provincial government added that a letter was written to the electoral watchdog regarding the concern earlier, however, the request was rejected.

It maintained that in the decision made by the ECP, the commission also rejected the withdrawal of notifications regarding the number of union councils, adding that the order also did not respond to the concerns of the Sindh government regarding the non-availability of the law enforcement agencies.

In the letter, the Sindh government informed that a meeting was held regarding the issue and was attended by government officials as well as the secretary of ECP along with senior officials of security agencies.

“In this meeting, the law enforcement and intelligence agencies apprised the participants of the precarious law and order situation along with specific threats to various political leaders and workers of political parties,” it stated.

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Concluding the letter, the provincial government once again requested the electoral watchdog to postpone the LG elections in Hyderabad and Karachi.

"The second phase of local elections should be postponed till the availability of security forces," read the letter. The LG polls are to be held in 16 districts of Karachi and Hyderabad.

Electoral materials reach dispatch centre

Vehicles carrying the electoral materials for the LG elections has reached the dispatch centre in Sindh.

According to Express News, vehicles that will be transporting electoral materials from the dispatch centre to the polling stations have reached various centres of the districts. However, the staff were not present at the spot.

Central control room established

The ECP has established a central control room for three days, which will continue to function uninterrupted until the results of Sindh’s LG polls are announced.

The control room will also issue immediate orders in case of complaints.
The electoral watchdog stated that “no interference will be tolerated during polling”, adding that “immediate action will be taken against the violators”.

It is pertinent to note that the second round of LG elections in 16 districts of Sindh was to be held on July 24, 2022.

However, the Sindh administration had excused itself from holding the polls over the lack of security and police presence because of the floods that wreaked havoc across the country, including Sindh.

Later, the LG elections were rescheduled for August 28 but the elections did not take place on that day and a new date was again set as October 23.

However, the polls were postponed on that date too.

Earlier this month, the ECP had ruled that the local government elections in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Thatta would be held on Jan 15 as per schedule.

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