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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected requests of Sindh and federal government to postpone the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions, announcing to hold the polls in all the 16 districts of these two divisions on the coming January 15.

The commission has also directed the provincial and federal authorities to render the required assistance to the ECP in holding the LG polls.

In its 10-page verdict issued on Tuesday that was reserved on November 15, the ECP directed the Sindh government, Sindh’s chief secretary and inspector general of police (IGP) to provide “sufficient number of security personnel” for election duty at the polling stations, offices of the district returning officers (DROs), returning officers (ROs), polling staff and for the transportation of polling material to and from the RO offices.

The electoral authority directed the secretary interior to provide sufficient number of security personnel from “other law enforcement agencies” in accordance with security plan for LG elections in both the divisions.

A five-member ECP bench comprising of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and Justice Ikramullah Khan (retd) heard the case and announced the verdict.

Sindh High Court orders immediate LG elections in Karachi, Hyderabad

Earlier, the Sindh government and federal Interior Ministry sought from the ECP the postponement of the LG polls in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions, citing shortage of the security personnel due to their engagements elsewhere.

In the previous hearing of the case on November 15 when the verdict was reserved, the Sindh and federal government had refused to provide the required assistance to the ECP in holding the LG polls in the two divisions.

Last month, the electoral entity accused the Interior Ministry of refusing to ensure the static deployment of military and paramilitary personnel in the LG elections for Karachi and Hyderabad divisions, which were scheduled on October 23, and announced to postpone these polls, for the third time, citing a shortage of security personnel.

On August 24, the ECP postponed the LG polls in all the seven districts of the Karachi division— East, West, South, Central, Korangi, Keamari and Malir— on account of torrential rains that triggered heavy flooding in various parts of Karachi and the rest of Sindh.

A day earlier, on August 23, the electoral body postponed the LG polls in nine districts of the Hyderabad division— Hyderabad, Dadu, Jamshoro, Matiari, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allahyar, Badin, Sujawal and Thatta.

The polls in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions were earlier scheduled on July 24 under the second phase— but the ECP, on July 20, postponed these polls and rescheduled them to August 28 – keeping in view the weather forecast of heavy downpours in the monsoon season.

Under the first phase, the LG elections were held on June 26 this year in 14 districts of Sindh - Larkana, Kambar Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Sukkur, Ghotki, Khairpur, Naushero Feroze, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tharparkar. These polls saw allegations of widespread rigging from different political parties.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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