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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has directed the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to approach the federal government authorities and get parliamentary legislation done in a month, related to Local Government (LG) elections in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The deadline was given in a top-level meeting, Thursday, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and attended by Secretary ECP Omar Hamid Khan, Secretary Interior Yousaf Naseem Khokhar, Chief Commissioner Islamabad Amer Ali Ahmed, Administrator Metropolitan Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) Shafaq Hashmi and other senior officials.

Secretary ECP informed the meeting that local bodies in ICT completed their term on February 14 this year, following which the ECP was bound to hold LG elections in ICT within 120 days.

The meeting was informed that MoI, through a letter, earlier in May 2018, had informed the ECP that 50 Union Councils (UCs) were set up in the territorial limits of ICT.

The ECP, the ECP Secretary said, issued schedule for delimitation of constituencies for LG polls in ICT on June 21 on keeping in view the MoI's aforesaid letter.

On July 6, the Interior Ministry withdrew its letter wherein it had mentioned that the number of UCs in ICT was 50, which stalled the delimitation process in these UCs, Hamid Khan said.

Secretary Interior informed the meeting that population in ICT increased manifolds as revealed by the results of Population Census 2017 notified by the federal government.

The government, he said, is considering a proposal to establish a UC for every 20,000 people. He said the government wants to introduce an LG Act for holding LG polls in ICT. Presently, a committee is working on the proposed legislative draft which would be sent to the federal cabinet for its nod once it gets the committee's clearance, Khokhar said.

Finally, the draft would be presented to Parliament for legislation, the Interior Secretary said, adding that this process would take a month.

The ECP the directed the Interior Secretary to ensure that the entire process related to LG polls is completed within a month. The electoral body also directed the Chief Commissioner Islamabad to provide the required maps and related documents for LG polls in ICT.

On July 27, ECP decided to take assistance from the federal ministries of Law and Justice, and Parliamentary Affairs as well as Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) regarding delimitation of constituencies for LG elections in the country.

In the same meeting, the ECP decided to summon the Secretary Interior and Chief Commissioner Islamabad on August 5, regarding LG polls in ICT.

In April this year, the ECP reiterated that holding timely LG polls in all the four provinces, ICT and CBs was its constitutional responsibility and it would ensure the timely conduct of these polls. All the four provinces had previously requested the ECP to halt constituencies' delimitation exercise for LG polls until population census results were officially notified.

Also in April, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) finally approved the results of the Population Census 2017 after which the arrangements for LG polls are gaining momentum

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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