Monday April 22, 2024

Karachi LG polls will not be postponed again: CEC Sikandar Sultan

ECP reserves its verdict on MQM-P's plea against dual electoral lists

By Nausheen Yusuf
January 06, 2023
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja — Radio Pakistan
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja — Radio Pakistan 

ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja said Friday that Karachi's local government (LG) polls — which have been put off multiple times — will not be postponed again.

The chief's comments came during the hearing of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) plea against dual voter lists. The ECP, after hearing the arguments, reserved its verdict on the petition.

A three-member bench of the commission held the hearing today, during which the CEC told the lawyer of MQM-P that the party had gone to various forums, including the Supreme Court, a high court, and the ECP, but never raised this issue before. He urged them to raise any other issues so they could hold a hearing on them together.

The CEC told MQM-P's lawyer that he gave an incorrect statement regarding the usage of dual electoral rolls. He added that the MQM-P thinks it can delay the polls using these tactics, terming their arguments "irrelevant".

Raja emphasised that nothing could delay the LG polls in Karachi. It is the election commission's responsibility to conduct the polls.

Second Phase

Highly placed sources in the ECP told The News on Tuesday that the whole infrastructure for conducting the elections fairly and smoothly had been implemented. 

The security agencies which earlier declined to provide security due to the floods of June last have agreed to provide the required strength of the force to guard the process.

CEC Raja is in constant contact with the top officials of the province. The election commission has asked the authorities concerned to file reports daily about the preparations and hurdles if any.

Earlier, the ECP had told the Sindh government that the second phase of the local government polls in Karachi and Hyderabad would be held on July 24, 2022. Still, it postponed them because of torrential rains and subsequent floods in the province.

The electoral body rescheduled the LG elections for August 28, but they were put off again for the same reason.

The commission had said that most polling stations had been inaccessible to the voters.

On October 18, the ECP rescheduled the elections for October 23. Still, the provincial government sought their postponement for three months because it had deployed police in the flooded areas, due to which it could not provide the required level of security to the polling stations.

After the repeated delays, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) moved the Sindh High Court, which on November 15 instructed the ECP to announce the date for the LG elections within 15 days.

On November 22, the ECP announced January 15 as the new date.