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ISLAMABAD: Uncertainty shrouds the fate of local government (LG) elections in the country in the backdrop of rapid spread of Covid-19 as the provincial governments have not yet responded to the calls from Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to remove hurdles in holding the LG polls.

The provincial governments are likely to convey that they are not in position to fulfil the requirements for holding LG polls due to their extensive engagements in battling Covid-10, Business Recorder has learnt.

So far, no provincial government has assured the ECP or even responded to its reminders to fulfil their obligations in ensuring holding LG polls as early as possible, ECP sources told Business Recorder.

On Aug 5, the ECP directed the Punjab government to provide a date for holding LG polls at upper tier, village and neighbourhood councils in the province but the provincial government did not comply with the ECP's instructions, it is learnt.

On Oct 14 this year, the ECP said there was no legal justification to delay LG elections in Punjab, saying the electoral body had repeatedly reminded the Punjab government to provide a date for LG polls which has not been done so far.

The ECP said it had given the deadline of Oct 13, to Punjab government for providing name village and neighbourhood councils. In this regard, Punjab CM's office informed the commission that a cabinet committee was reviewing the names for village and neighbourhood councils and put its recommendations before the provincial cabinet, it is further learnt.

The provincial government also requested the ECP to extend the date for publication of preliminary list of delimited constituencies for village and neighbourhood councils in Punjab which was to be done on Oct 15, Business Recorder has learnt.

However, the provincial government did not give any date to the commission regarding naming village and neighbourhood councils nor has the Punjab government given any date to hold LG elections.

On Sep 2 this year, the ECP said the governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had not yet met certain legal requirements in line with holding local government elections and stressed upon the federal and provincial governments to remove constitutional and legal hitches for the timely conduct of LG polls.

The ECP said KP government did not notify certain provisions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act, 2019, and Khyber Paktunkhwa Local Council Rules, 2019, which is a hurdle in making preparations for LG elections in the province.

The KP government has also not provided the relevant data in the seven divisional headquarters related to the city local councils' limits, the number of village and neighbourhood councils and category-wise number of seats due to which delimitation exercise could not be started in these districts, ECP said.

In Sindh, the ECP said it could face problems in the delimitation of constituencies since the provincial government has yet not provided the relevant data of all the districts, sought by the ECP, regarding maps of revenue limits of the districts and related data.

In Balochistan, where the delimitation exercise is on a halt on the orders of Balochistan High Court, the ECP directed the PEC Balochistan to write to the provincial government to take steps for legislation to resolve the issue regarding certain provisions in Balochistan Local Government Act, 2010, being in collision with Elections Act, 2017, in order to remove hurdles for holding LG elections.

In Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), the local government is still in place and local bodies would meet their term in March next year.

The ECP last month had decided to summon the secretaries of the ministries of Parliamentary Affairs and Law and Justice in the backdrop of repeated intimations sent to both the ministries to notify the results of population census 2017. No progress in notifying the population census results is reported to have been made despite several reminders from the ECP, sources said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020