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ISLAMABAD: The top officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Punjab government met on Wednesday to choose a date for the local government elections in Punjab, while the ECP has sought suggestions from the provincial government whether to hold LG elections in a phase-wise manner or in one day.

Chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, the meeting was attended by Punjab's Law Minister Raja Basharat and other senior provincial government and the ECP officials.

The meeting was held on the request of the Punjab government to finalise the date for LG elections in the province in the light of Section 27 of Punjab, Village, Punchayat and Neighbourhood Councils Act, 2019, said a statement from the ECP issued after the meeting.

On a briefing given to the ECP by the secretary LG Punjab, the ECP inquired whether the provincial government wanted to hold the LG elections in a phase-wise manner or it intended to hold these elections in one day, the statement said, adding that the Punjab government would send its "comprehensive proposal" for the ECP's review in the next few days regarding finalisation of the LG elections date in the province.

Regarding LG elections in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the ECP was briefed that the KP government had not yet notified the enforcement of different laws related to the LG elections, which was causing problems for the ECP to make arrangements for the LG elections in the province, the press release said.

The Commission directed the secretary ECP to hold a meeting with the secretary LG KP soon to ensure the holding of LG elections in the province, it added.

In Sindh, where the tenure of LG bodies is coming to an end on August 30th, 2020, the Commission directed the Provincial Election Commission (PEC) Sindh to take steps for delimitation of constituencies in order to make arrangements for holding LG elections, the ECP said.

On June 25, 2020, the ECP issued schedule for delimitation of constituencies in the village and neighbourhood councils of the Punjab and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and establishment of district committees for this purpose.

The ECP said it issued this schedule in exercise of powers laid down in Punjab Village, Punchayat and Neighbourhood Councils Act, 2019, and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, 2013.

According to the schedule, completion of all the administrative arrangements including procurement of maps and relevant data was to be done from July 6-25, 2020.

Preparation of preliminary list of constituencies by the delimitation committees from July 27 to August 20th.

Publication of preliminary list of constituencies for inviting representations and objections: August 21.

Filing of representations and objections before the delimitation authorities by the voters concerned: August 22 to September 6.

Disposal of representation and objections by the delimitation authorities: till October 5.

Last date for communication of decision of delimitation authorities to the delimitation committees: October 12.

And final publication of list of constituencies by the delimitation committees: October 13, 2020.

On March 18, 2020, the electoral body expressed serious concern over non-provision of the required information related to the proposed rules including necessary notifications, maps, chronological order of census blocks of religious minorities, and other related documents and asked the chief secretaries of the Punjab and the KP to provide the required data at the earliest for holding of the LG polls in the provinces as early as possible.

Earlier on February 25, this year, the ECP expressed concern over non-provision of the relevant data by the Punjab, and asked chief secretary Punjab to immediately provide the required data.

The ECP also reviewed Draft Punjab Village Punchayat and Neighbourhood Councils Rules, 2020, and finalised certain observations regarding the proposed rules that deal with the conduct of the LG elections at the village and union council levels in the Punjab.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020