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ISLAMABAD: In what comes as a huge setback to ECP’s delimitation drive for local government elections, all the four provinces have opposed the delimitation of constituencies while Punjab government has already issued an ordinance that has rendered ineffective the entire delimitation exercise in Pakistan’s largest province.

On Feb 3, Punjab government issued Punjab Local Government Ordinance, which resulted in all the delimitation arrangements made by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) related to LG elections in the provinces been rendered ineffective.

Grappling with this situation, the Commission has now summoned the chief secretary and secretary LG Punjab on Feb 15 to take up the issue.

In addition, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday opposed ECP’s delimitation drive on provisional census results and took the stance that delimitation drive in the two provinces will lack any legitimacy unless the results of population census 2017 were officially notified.

In a meeting with Balochistan and KP government officials regarding LG polls, the Commission asked the federal government officials including the deputy attorney general and secretary inter-provincial coordination to ‘request’ the federal government to notify the population census results before March 1. The secretary IPC informed the ECP that federal cabinet has already approved the summary to notify results of population census 2017 and that approval from Council of Common Interests (CCI) is still required. The secretary IPC said CCI would grant approval to notify the results of population census 2017 in March, following which, the results would be notified by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

In Sindh, the ECP’s delimitation drive is in doldrums too. In September last year, Sindh government rejected the Commission’s delimitation plan and refused to accept delimitation of constituencies for LG polls on provisional census results.

Following this situation, the ECP has repeatedly asked the ministries of Parliamentary Affairs, Law and Justice, and IPC to play their role in getting the population census results notified but the matter stands unresolved.

A former ECP official said the Commission announced delimitation drive without examining the ground realities and taking the provinces into the loop.

“It was the responsibility of ECP to first ensure that results of population census 2017 were duly notified before announcing delimitation plan. If the federal government is reluctant to notify the census results, the ECP has the authority to direct the federal government to expedite this process and take action against the officials concerned in case of any delay. But the ECP has kept shying away from exercising its authority,” the official said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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