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July 18, 2013

SC wants date for holding LB polls today

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P
PR
July 18, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed all the provinces to give a final date today (Thursday) for holding local bodies (LB) elections after consulting the authorities concerned.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, resumed hearing in the Balochistan law and order situation case.
During the hearing, the chief justice observed that the new government in Balochistan had also failed in maintaining law and order, adding that without implementing the LB system the situation would not improve.
The court directed the deputy attorney general to file a statement on Thursday (today), on behalf of the federal government to ensure the maintenance of law and order and provide assistance to the provincial government.
“Dates shall also be given by all the provinces after consulting the functionaries concerned for holding elections for the local government,” the court ruled in its order.The court issued a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan to make representation and submit it to fulfil its constitutional duties and inform the court when the ECP will be in a position to hold LB polls.
The court observed that a date had already been fixed for holding elections for the cantonment boards, — September 15, 2013. Therefore, it would be appreciated if all the provincial governments as well as the ICT and ECP managed to hold such elections within the same period or with a slight change because local government elections were to be held throughout the country.
The court further observed that it was the state which was responsible for protecting the lives and property of its citizens. “If the incidents of target killings on a sectarian basis, etc, are not controlled, it would be very difficult to provide a free atmosphere to residents to run the affairs of the lives liberally and independently; therefore, in this

behalf the provincial government as well as the federal government are required immediately to take effective steps to ensure protection to the lives and properties of citizens,” the court noted in its order.
The court directed Deputy Attorney General Dil Muhammad Alizai to take up this matter with the federation and submit a report by Thursday (today) asking how the federal government could provide assistance to the provincial government for the purpose of maintaining law and order as well as ensuring that lives and properties of all citizens, notwithstanding their ethnic background or sect, are protected and sectarian killings, which are increasing day by day, are stopped. Similarly, the people of Quetta and the rest of the province of Balochistan
the Province of the Balochistan feel secure about their lives and properties.
“We are, prima facie, of the opinion that for want of a network at grassroots level available to be provincial government, it is difficult to establish contact with the citizens living in the far-flung areas, it was need of the hour as well as constitutional commitment in terms of Article 32 and 140-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to hold the elections for the local government,” the court ruled in its order.
“We have been led to understand by the chief secretary that on completion of preliminary issues i.e. delimitation etc, the provincial government is contemplating to hold the local bodies’ elections, but, unfortunately, so far nothing has been done. No doubt newly elected government has taken over but nothing has been done not only in the province of Balochistan but also in the other provinces as well to fulfil the command and the commitment of the Constitution,” the court further noted in its order.
The court observed that it is necessary to fulfil the elections of local government in order to ensure the participation of the general public in the good governance and also to fulfil the command of the Constitution noted hereinabove; therefore, it had issued notices to all the advocate generals of the provinces.
During the hearing, Balochistan Advocate General Shakil Baloch stated that the government is ready to hold the elections of local government, but he is not in a position to give a date because a request has to be made to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under Article 140-A(2) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973.
Earlier, Shahid Hamid, counsel for the Balochistan government, placed on record details-progress so far made for effecting the recovery of missing persons i.e. month-wise break up of target and sectarian killings, 2013; year wise break-up of target and sectarian killings since 2007; summary of kidnapping for ransom in Balochistan from 1.1. 2013 to 30.6.2013; Overall achievements made from time to time to improve the law and order situation and to address the other relevant issues in the Balochistan Province and action taken to enhance the capacity of Balochistan Police to fight terrorism.
During the hearing, Mustafa Ramday, Advocate General, Punjab, sought some time to make a statement. However, on behalf of the Government of Khyber Pakhunkhwa, Syed Arshad Hussain, Additional Advocate General, filed as statement duly signed by the chief secretary stating that the government is ready and willing to hold the elections of the local government as soon as the date is given by the ECP.
Similarly, the deputy attorney general placed on record a statement on behalf of the ICT and stated that the ICT administration is in favour of holding elections of the local government in the rural areas under the Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance 1979, as has been announced by the government, but we have pointed out to him that the elections have to be held both in rural as well as urban areas and there should not be any distinction between both the areas for holding elections.
No one appeared on behalf of the Sindh advocate general, at which the court issued notice to him during the course of day enabling him to appear and make the statement.
Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing till today (Thursday). Online adds: Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that despite a new government in place, the situation in Balochistan has turned worse.
Then apex court bench observed that the former government failed to protect the people of the province and everyone hoped the new government will change things for better, however, the situation has not improved.
The chief justice further lamented the zero progress in the missing persons’ cases.Commenting on the sectarian violence in the province, Justice Iftikhar said that only one community is being targeted by the extremists.
He added that the militants are strengthening because of the government’s soft stance.The Balochistan chief secretary admitted before the court that the situation in Balochistan has turned worse but assured that the police were more active than before and have been raiding and arresting suspects. The chief justice has sought report of target killing, sectarian incidents, and missing persons’ recovery.