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ISLAMABAD: Amidst categorical refusal of the Sindh government to hold local government elections in the province unless its ‘reservations’ on the results of population census 2017 were addressed by the federal government, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to take up this case for regular hearing from the coming September 7.

The decision was taken in an ECP meeting on Wednesday presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

The meeting was of the view that it was the constitutional responsibility of ECP to hold LG elections in Sindh and it was the duty of Sindh government to assist the electoral body for this purpose.

In the wake of Sindh government’s refusal to make arrangements for LG polls, the Commission fixed the matter for regular hearing for which notices have been served to Sindh authorities.

Earlier on Monday, Sindh government, in a meeting with ECP officials, categorically refused to hold LG elections in the province and linked its decision on holding these polls with the redressal of its concerns by federal government regarding the results of population census 2017.

On the other hand, ECP accused the provincial government of being non-serious in holding the LG polls.

Advisor to the Chief Minister Sindh on Law Barrister Murtaza Wahab told the said 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 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 in Monday meeting.

“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 term of local bodies in Sindh ended on August 30 last year. The ECP was constitutionally bound to hold LG elections in Sindh within 120 days of the expiry of local bodies’ term.

The ECP said it 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.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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