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ISLAMABAD: Faced with lack of support from provincial governments in holding local government elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has formed a committee that would review different options including the proposal to assign the provinces the complete responsibility of organising the LG polls if ECP's reliance on provinces regarding LG elections is not reduced through parliamentary legislation.

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

The committee is headed by Special Secretary ECP Zafar Iqbal Hussain and comprises Director General (Law) Muhammad Arshad and other senior officers.

The committee would deliberate on the causes of delay in LG polls, the role of provincial governments in this regard, proposals to be put up before provincial and federal governments for holding LG polls, proposals to be shared with federal government for parliamentary legislation to reduce ECP's reliance on provincial governments in organising LG elections, ECP's constitutional responsibilities regarding LG elections and related issues.

The committee would be mandated to consider the option that the responsibility of holding LG polls be completely shifted to provincial governments "if reliance of ECP on provincial governments for LG polls cannot be reduced."

The development surfaces at a time when ECP and provinces are entangled in serious differences over LG polls issue. The Commission has, time and again, pressed on the provinces to play their role for holding the LG elections but the federating units have apparently shown reluctance in this regard.

On Wednesday, amidst categorical refusal of the Sindh government to hold LG elections in the province unless its "reservations" on the results of population census 2017 were addressed by the federal government, ECP decided to take up this case for regular hearing from the coming September 7.

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.

On August, 10 ECP rejected the requests of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan governments to be granted more time in preparation of LG elections and directed the two provincial governments to ensure that LG polls are held this year.

Chief Secretary KP Dr Kazim Niaz had recommended to hold LG polls in the province in March 2022. In January this year, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments had suggested to ECP to hold LG polls in September this year.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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