ISLAMABAD - Announcing the conduct of local government elections in Balochistan on December 7 and releasing the related schedule, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has hinted at the holding of LG polls in the two big provinces not before the next year.
The commission is to move a civil miscellaneous application (CMA) in Supreme Court expectedly today (Friday) or Monday citing operational and logistical constraints that require not less than four months to hold LG polls in Punjab and Sindh, to seek time for the elections preparation. This implies the LG polls would not be held in the two provinces before March 2014.
Earlier, the commission was set to announce today the LG elections schedule for Sindh and that of Punjab on the coming Tuesday.
Corresponding to the announcement of LG polls schedule for Balochistan, the poll authority has ordered the Printing Corporation of Pakistan (PCP) to print eight million ballot papers for the province, whose printing would start after November 15, it has been learnt. As many as 300 million ballot papers would be reportedly printed for Punjab, 130 million for Sindh and 80 million for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“After a week of consultations, we have come to know that LG elections in Punjab and Sindh are not possible on the prescribed dates of November 27 and December 7,” Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmad Khan told the journalists in a briefing that was delayed for around one-and-a-half hour.
“General polls are largest administrative exercise in the country, the LG polls would be twice or thrice the size of general polls magnitude.”
The secretary said, the ECP and the departments concerned required not less than four months to perform the respective tasks assigned to them vis-à-vis local bodies elections.
The PCP is to print over 510 million ballot papers. The PCSIR (Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) is to provide magnetic ink and 2.2 million stamp pads and NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) is to print fresh voter lists after delimitation conducted by the provinces.
Between the lines, the secretary ECP passed the buck on provinces, impliedly accusing them of misinforming the SC on their LG polls preparation. The Sindh and Punjab had informed the apex court of their readiness to hold the LG elections on November 27 and December 7 following which, the court had ordered the ECP on October 25 to make arrangements for LG polls on the provinces-prescribed dates.
“The provinces are not ready, their delimitation exercises are not complete and we are yet to be notified about the completion of constituencies delimitations as well as the rules on which the LG laws of Sindh and Punjab are based,” Ishtiak said.
The KP, which passed its LG laws on Thursday and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), which is yet to do way with the LG bill, are in the process of preparing for LG polls. The schedules for KP and ICT would be issued once their preparations were complete, the secretary said.
“Provinces are serious and playing their part for LG polls, so is the ECP. There’s no reason the LG polls will not be held in all the five regions,” he said.
More than a million personnel would be assigned election duties for LG polls, over 100,000 polling stations would be set up while 6.5 billion rupees is the estimated expenditure for the LG elections for which summary has been sent to the Finance Division. Of this amount, two billion rupees would be spent on magnetised ink. The district and sessions judges would be the appellate authorities.
Meanwhile, the LG polls schedule for Balochistan followed by a six-point Code of Conduct states, the returning officers would issue nomination papers on 6th November. The nomination papers would be received by the ROs from 7-8 November. Objection to the nomination papers will be heard on 9th November. Scrutiny of nomination papers will be held 10-11 November. Appeals against acceptance, rejection of nomination papers heard from 12-16 November. Appeals will be disposed of from 17-18 November. Withdrawal of candidature and publication of final list of contesting candidates: 19-11-2013. Polling will be held on 7th December. Polls results will be declared on 10th December.
The LG polls code of conduct bars transfers/postings of the civil servants after the issuance of election schedule without prior approval of the commission, till the publication of election results.
It also bars all executive authorities in the federation and in the provinces from using state resources in the LG elections “calculated to influence the elections in favour of a particular candidate or a political party.”
The code of conduct prohibits the government functionaries including the prime minister, governor, chief minister, speaker, deputy speaker, federal and provincial ministers and others from visiting the area of any local council to announce any development scheme or to canvass or campaign for any candidate or any political party, after the LG polls schedule issuance.
The deputy commissioners/ district coordination officers are barred from performing protocol duties with the top ruling elites till conclusion of the electoral process.