KARACHI - The current political happenings and differences among the ruling allies over the mode of local government system have diminished the hope of conducting the local bodies’ elections in the province, this year.
As the Sindh High Court in its short verdict, on May 18, 2012, had ordered the provincial government to hold LG elections in 90 days, but signs are not seen to implement the verdict of the apex court at government level, except to make statements.
After natural expiry of local government system of Nazims in 2009, the PPP-led Sindh government made legislation for about four times and postponed the elections for indefinite period. The Sindh government amended the law and had attached a condition that whenever the new law of local government system framed, the present government will approach the Election Commission and urge for holding the polls elections within 90 days on party basis.
During the chat by TheNation with persons belong to the parties part of present government, it was emerged that the difference of opinion on new law as well as possible split among the ruling allies over their demand to get control on more districts/Tehsils/union council governments are main reasons to escaping from local government elections in the province.
A senior leader of a party, which is an ally of PPP, was of the opinion that holding of the local government elections at this stage will not benefit the PPP government, attributing the reason of break of ruling coalition. So the PPP is not in a mood to take this startling step, he opined.
He further said that the step of local government election will further cause of worrisome for the present government and will create an opportunity for anti government political forces to come together. But the PPP is not in mood to create further problem for it.
The history showed that most of the democratic governments in Pakistan never held LG election as this third tier system of government does not suit them.
Besides, the coalition-partners in Sindh government are not on same page as they have different thoughts about the law of local government.
Though, the smaller partners in Sindh government, which include PML-F, PML-Q, ANP and National Peoples Party, support the PPP for its new draft law of the LG system, nearing to 1979 system. But the MQM alone does not agree with the draft law of the PPP and advocated for more powers for this third tier of government.
Negotiations have been continued among the PPP and the MQM for last four years, but they have not been able to reach a final agreement on which system to adopt.
Meanwhile, the Sindh government in its written reply submitted in Supreme Court has mentioned number of reasons for delay in the holding of elections. Lack of corrected electoral voter lists, bad law and order situation and ongoing consultation on the new law of LG system have been attributed as reason for delay in holding of local bodies’ election in the Sindh province.
When contacted, Provincial Election Commissioner of Election Commission Sono Khan Baloch told TheNation that the Election Commission of Pakistan is ready to hold local government elections.
Baloch said that ECP contacted the Sindh government to hand over the law of local government, so the election commission can ensure the holding of local government elections within 90 days, adding, but the Sindh government has replied that it was still consulting with the other coalition partners on the new law.
However, a senior official of the Advocate General Sindh office told The Nation that the detail order of the Sindh High Court about Local Government elections yet to come as the period of filling the appeal against order will start after the detail order/verdict.
He further said that the suo moto case about the LG elections was already pending in the Supreme Court Balochistan registry, where three provinces-Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces have submitted their views, declaring that the current law and order situation as well as other matters related to issue also not allowing them to hold local government elections at this stage.
Official of the AG office recalled that the three provinces have further submitted in the Supreme Court that consultation on new law of local government system was still in process.
“The LG polls will take time as provincial government can’t give the schedule to hold the elections of this third tier of government-local government,” said official of the Sindh government. He maintained that the matter was still pending in the Supreme Court, so the provincial government will follow the orders of the Supreme Court in this regard.
Meanwhile, Sindh Law Minister Muhammad Ayaz Soomro while talking to the media at a local hotel on Friday said that the government had acted as per directives of court and would hold local government elections if the court ordered.
Referring to the 1979 local government law, he said that the law on local government elections was already there, if all coalition partners are ready the government can approach the election commission for holding of local bodies’ elections.
Sindh Law Minister dispelled the impression that PPP government was trying to escape the local government elections.
On the other side, former district Nazim of Sukkur Syed Nasir Ali Shah, who had filed petition in Sindh High Court, while talking to TheNation said that the PPP was feared of losing the elections, so it was not ready to give schedule of the local bodies’ elections.