It is a sad fact that our “stalwart democrats” are working very hard to delay as much as possible the third round election, where the public is closest to elected officials. This backsliding appears to be due to fears of losing influence at the local level and the emergence of alternative leadership that could challenge the mainstream parties. The fact that the recent legislation to change the number of trade union councils in Islamabad was effectively delayed by bulldozing through the National Assembly and the senate is proof enough of this. Voting in the capital was supposed to be held on the last day of the year, but the state fund led by the People’s Democratic Party submitted a bill to change the number of municipal councils from 101 to 125, and called for the direct election of the mayor and deputy mayor through the parliament. , it will not be possible to conduct polls in time. Moreover, the ICC overturned the decision of the IEC against increasing UC in the capital.
A similar legal gimmick has already been used in Punjab, where polls are delayed by frequent changes to the LG Act. Meanwhile, in Sindh, polling has been delayed several times this year due to a lack of security personnel to ensure the safe conduct of polling, which the provincial government says has been forced by force majeure due to floods. The flood argument made sense at first, but the waters receded and Karachi never experienced a monsoon flood; So the Sindh government’s excuse for postponing the polls sounds increasingly hollow. In fact, in the absence of the courts and the ECP, political parties in Pakistan may delay the constitutional requirement of an elected third term indefinitely. Thanks to the ECP’s efforts, the LG polls have been scheduled for mid-January in Karachi and Hyderabad, while Punjab is due to hold elections in April 2023.
We sincerely hope that the ruling parties in Sindh and Punjab will stop making excuses for delaying the polls and hold the elections on schedule. Islamabad also has the right to have elected local governments, so the new timetable should be set and followed. From the provision of basic services to the implementation of climate change plans, hardly any livable city in the world has developed without an elected and accountable local government. However, Pakistan’s political class believes that cities and even neighborhoods can be run by MLAs and MLAs, and voters run after them to sweep their streets or clean their gutters. This is not reality. Political parties need to change their mindset about local polls and it should only strengthen democracy in Pakistan and not stand in their way. Moreover, government institutions such as the courts and the EC should constantly remind political parties that conducting local polls is a constitutional requirement.
Posted on December 25, 2022 at dawn