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ISLAMABAD: Punjab government suggested to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday to hold local government elections in the province in September this year while the ECP decided to finalise next week the date for LG polls in Pakistan’s largest province.

The decision was taken in a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and attended by the senior officials of ECP and those of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments.

Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat informed the meeting that Punjab government wanted to hold LG elections in September this year. He said the provincial government would provide in the next 15 days the details of all the village, panchayat and neighbourhood councils in the province. The ECP decided to finalise a date for LG polls in Punjab keeping in view the suggestion of Punjab government.

On this month’s first, Secretary LG Punjab Dr Sajid Mahmood Chauhan told ECP in a meeting that provincial government could not give any date for holding LG polls in Punjab as the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) had clearly recommended postponing the LG polls due to rapid spread of coronavirus across the country.

The secretary LG sought more time from the ECP to provide a date for LG polls.

This did not go down well with the electoral body.

“It seems that Punjab government is not serious in holding LG polls that is why it is giving lame excuses,” said CEC who presided over the meeting.

The ECP directed the provincial government to provide LG polls date within next 15 days. The commission also directed the provincial government to name and publish panchayat and village councils latest by the 10th of this month.

Meanwhile, Secretary LG KP Shakeel Ahmed Mian informed the meeting that KP Board of Revenue notified the tehsil limits of Peshawar and the number of villages/ neighbourhood councils in Peshawar would be notified tehsil-wise soon.

The draft of Conduct of Election Rules 2020 has been sent to the provincial cabinet for approval and the provincial cabinet would approve these rules in its upcoming meeting, he said.

The ECP directed secretary LG KP to provide notifications regarding village/neighbourhood councils in Peshawar within 15 days.

Last month, the ECP notified to cease the administrative units’ boundaries in six of the seven divisional headquarters of KP following the launch of constituencies’ delimitation exercise in these areas, a mandatory constitutional requirement for LG elections.

In a notification issued then, the commission said that the boundaries of existing administrative units in the six divisional headquarters “shall stand ceased forthwith and no change in the boundaries of aforementioned administrative units shall be made till the culmination of delimitation process in above referred districts of KP province.”

The KP’s six out of seven divisional headquarters are: district Abbottabad, the headquarter of Hazara Division, district Bannu, the headquarter of Bannu Division, district Dera Ismail Khan, the headquarter of Dera Ismail Khan Division, district Kohat, the headquarter of Kohat Division, district Swat, the headquarter of Malakand Division and district Mardan, the headquarter of Mardan Division.

However, the notification did not include district Peshawar, the headquarter of Peshawar Division and the provincial capital of KP, where provincial government is yet to notify the number of village/neighbourhood councils tehsil-wise.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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