The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday reserved its verdict in the case against the deferral of the local bodies elections in Karachi several times.
A five-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, held the hearing, which was attended by PPP’s Murtaza Wahab, JI’s Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, and MQM's Wasim Akhtar.
IG Sindh, chief secretary Sindh, and secretary local government department were also present during the hearing.
ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal informed the electoral watchdog that the LG polls were initially postponed due to rains but the provincial government of Sindh has approved the postponement for another 90 days.
“Delay in the local bodies polls is a violation of Supreme Court’s order,” the secretary said, stressing that the elections should be held at the earliest in the light of top court's orders.
Iqbal further stated that the ECP is ready to hold elections in Karachi.
Moreover, the ECP secretary asked the Ministry of Interior about the position of Frontier Corps (FC) and Pakistan Rangers for the provision of security and maintenance of law-and-order situation during the local government polls.
The interior official said the bulk of the security forces was still busy providing security in the flood-affected areas of Sindh.
“We are not in a position to fulfil the security needs of the local government elections,” the official said. "The situation does not allow us to deploy civil armed forces at these elections”.
Moving on, Karachi Administrator and Government of Sindh's spokesperson, Murtaza Wahab, said that the second phase of elections was postponed twice due to rain and flood. He added that 25% to 30% of "Sindh is underwater".
"It is not possible to provide security forces and administrative staff for the elections in Karachi. "About 1,300 polling stations in Karachi are sensitive, and every station requires eight officials," said Wahab.
"Are you not in a position to provide security?" questioned CEC Raja, saying that election commission and CEC have the authority to provide a date for the local body elections.
Wahab expressed his concern regarding the security issues, to which Raja said that the polls should be held within 120 days. He added that the LG polls would also take place in Punjab.
The administrator said the Sindh government conducted the elections in the first phase with mutual understanding, adding that it does not want anyone to raise questions this time.
Wahab said that the Sindh government has approved postponing the elections till 90 days. At this, ECP's member asked how can the Sindh cabinet use the commission's authority.
"As per the law, it is the Sindh government's authority to announce local body elections," said Wahab, adding that the provincial government will announce the elections after consulting with the ECP.
The commissioner asked Sindh to meet the security shortfall by asking Punjab to provide police to the province.
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