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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), on Friday, rejected the Sindh government’s request to postpone local government elections in Karachi, Hyderabad and Dadu, and ruled that the polls will be held on January 15 as decided earlier.

The ECP, in a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, also hinted at taking strict action against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led provincial government for creating hurdles in delaying the polls. In the wee hours of Friday, the PPP-led provincial government had requested the ECP to postpone the elections in the Karachi, Hyderabad divisions, and two tehsils of Dadu district, Khairpur Nathan and Meher.

However, the ECP declared that the LG elections scheduled for January 15 will be held at all costs as per the schedule and issued an order to the Interior Ministry to put in place the security arrangements.

With directives to the Interior Ministry, the top electoral body said that deployment of army and Rangers personnel should be ensured at highly-sensitive polling stations in the province.

The meeting stated that neither the federal nor provincial governments want to hold any local elections, adding all the wreckage of the amendment of the Islamabad Local Government Act fell on the commission. It also said that all arrangements for the local body elections in Sindh were completed two days ago at the exact time that the ruling PPP announced the delay.

LG polls won’t be held in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadu on Jan 15: Sindh govt

The meeting also discussed the situation following the Punjab chief minister’s request for the dissolution of the provincial assembly with senior officers in attendance.Addressing a hurriedly-called press conference, Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said the polls in seven districts — Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, and Jamshoro — would go ahead as planned on January 15.Memon had also announced that the notification to hold the polls on the basis of the existing delimitation had also been withdrawn on the demand of their coalition partner, the MQM-P, which had serious reservations about it. The MQM-P had rejected the delimitation of local government constituencies and, terming them unjustified, demanded the withdrawal of the notification issued in this regard.

The ECP, however, unanimously rejected the request sent by the Sindh government to postpone the elections and made it clear that the local body polls will take place as per schedule. The term of the local governments had expired on August 30, 2020, and the ECP was bound to hold elections within 120 days of this.

The electoral exercise was originally scheduled for July 24 but was postponed due to the unprecedented monsoon rains and flash flooding that inundated large parts of the province. The ECP later rescheduled the LG polls for August 28, but they were deferred again due to the flood situation and a shortage of police personnel in Karachi.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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