ISLAMABAD: Despite all-out efforts by the MQM-P to delay the local government elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruled on Monday that there would be no changes in the schedule of local government (LG) polls – January 15 – in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Thatta divisions.

The ECP which had reserved its verdict last week on a petition filed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), challenging the decision of the top electoral body for the prospective use of two separate electoral rolls in the upcoming elections simultaneously.

On Monday, a three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja rejected the MQM’s petition, saying that polls in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Thatta would be held as per schedule and on the previous voters’ list.

He directed the Sindh government to complete arrangements for the elections, adding that the chief secretary and the law-enforcement agencies should also ensure that the elections were held on time.

Besides, the ECP requested the Interior Ministry for the deployment of army and Rangers troops for the upcoming LG elections to avoid any untoward incident.

In a letter written by the LG Elections Director, General Sharifullah, — dated January 6 — the ECP asked for the “static deployment of Pakistan Army/ Rangers troops outside highly sensitive polling stations along with already-approved QRF (Quick-reaction force) presence” on the day of the polls.

It said that the request was made “keeping in view the sensitivity of the areas concerned and in order to prevent any untoward incidents which are apprehended due to the volatile political environment”.

After multiple delays, the ECP had on November 22 finally announced that the second phase of local bodies’ polls in Karachi and Hyderabad would be held on January 15.

Announcing the verdict that it had reserved on November 15, the election watchdog asked the Sindh government, the chief secretary, and the provincial police chief to provide a sufficient number of security personnel for election duty at the polling stations, offices of the district returning officers, returning officers, polling staff and transportation of polling material from and to the offices of the ROs.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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