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ISLAMABAD: Sindh government on Monday categorically refused to hold local government elections in the province and linked its decision on holding these polls with the redressal of its concerns on part of federal government regarding the results of population census 2017 while ECP accused the provincial government of being non-serious in holding the LG polls.

The development surfaced in a top-level meeting on LG elections in Sindh presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and attended by senior officials from Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Sindh government.

Advisor to the Chief Minister Sindh on Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab told the meeting that the provincial government had serious concerns over the results of population census 2017 notified on May 6 this year following their approval by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). Sindh has filed an appeal with the federal government against these results in the light of the related provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan, the advisor said.

Unless the federal government took a decision on the pending appeal-and addressed the concerns of the province, LG elections in Sindh were not possible, Wahab said.

He further conveyed to ECP that Sindh government would not get any legislation done related to LG polls in the wake of its concerns regarding population census 2017. This did not go down well with the ECP. "First you (Sindh government) were saying that holding LG polls was not possible on provisional census results. Keeping this concern in view, we (ECP) stopped constituencies' delimitation drive in Sindh. Now that the results of population census have been notified, you are coming up with a new excuse -that you have concerns over the notified census results," Raja, the CEC, told Wahab.

"An impression is being created-and we are having this feeling- that Sindh government is non-serious in holding LG polls," the CEC continued.

The CM Sindh advisor denied that Sindh was non-serious towards the LG polls. He cited a decision given by Sindh High Court (SHC), wherein, he said, the SHC directed that legislation to make amendments in LG laws be done 18 months and delimitation be done one year prior to holding LG polls.

Secretary ECP Omar Hamid Khan said the term of local bodies in Sindh ended on August 30 last year. Constitutionally, he said, ECP was bound to hold LG elections in Sindh within 120 days of the expiry of local bodies' term. The ECP finalised all the arrangements for LG polls in Sindh and notified delimitation authorities on June 1 this year but Sindh government was yet to provide the ECP the necessary data related to LG polls like maps, number of union councils and relevant information, the secretary ECP added.

Chief Secretary Sindh Mumtaz Ali Shah informed the meeting that Sindh government wanted to amend LG laws -to "properly define" the functions of different LG institutions. The provincial government needed "at least six months" to complete this process, he said. The ECP decided to hold another meeting this week to specifically take up the issue of LG elections in Sindh.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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