ISLAMABAD: The electoral body, Wednesday, decided to hold local government elections in Punjab in the last week of April next year but failed to finalise any date.
In a meeting with the Punjab government officials, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) accused the provincial government of causing a delay in holding the LG polls in Pakistan’s largest province on one pretext or the other.
According to the ECP officials, delimitation of constituencies for LG elections in Punjab is required, after Punjab Local Government Act, 2022 having been notified by the provincial government on November 16.
The ECP also accused the Punjab government of not providing the required data for launching the delimitation drive.
Punjab Chief Secretary Abdullah Sumbal suggested that the LG elections should be held after Ramzan and Eidul Fitr. Ramzan is likely to start during the last days of March next year.
Keeping this in view, the meeting decided to hold the LG elections in the last week of April but no date was specified to this effect. It was decided that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) would hold consultations with the provincial government officials to finalise Punjab LG elections date.
In February this year, the ECP announced to hold LG polls in the 17 districts of Punjab under first phase on May 29 and decided that the schedule in the remaining districts would be issued later.
Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Khanewal, Vehari, Bahawalpur, Sahiwal, Pak Pattan, Toba Tek Singh, Khushab, Sialkot, Gujrat, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Jhelum and Attock were the districts where LG polls were to be held on May 29.
However, following devastating flash floods that wiped out different parts of the country including those of Punjab, and changes in Punjab LG laws done by the provincial government, the LG polls were delayed.
In April this year, the ECP accused the Punjab and federal governments of “trying to create hurdles” in holding LG elections by not releasing funds. According to the electoral body, the tenure of local bodies in Punjab ended in January this year.
Under the relevant electoral laws, the ECP is required to hold the LG polls within 120 days of the expiry of the term of the local government concerned.
Section 219 (4) of the Elections Act, 2017 provides that the ECP shall hold elections of the local governments within 120 days of the expiry of the term of the local governments of a province, cantonment or Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022