Despite the many mounting challenges facing it, the second phase of the local government elections in the remaining 18 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) took place on time, and from the looks of it at this time, despite some unscrupulous moments from some political workers, they appear to be going smoothly.

It is indeed an achievement that despite the ordinances changing election law, Islamabad High Court references against the new amendments, and in the midst of an extremely heated political discourse, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) managed to finalise all arrangements for the second phase of local government elections to take place on Thursday. It is indeed an uphill task to ensure that all polling materials, including ballot papers, polling bags, and polling workers, arrive at their respective polling stations today with full security, especially with the history of local government elections in Pakistan.

Despite the tussles in the federal capital and the parliament, Pakistan needs strong local governments. The first phase of the LG polls in KP which took place in December showed that despite many incidents of violence, there was a good turnout, with people enthusiastic to vote. For many municipal representatives in KP, LG polls are an opportunity to groom as political workers and future parliamentarians.

In order to ensure that a representative and democratic political culture evolves, the government and the ECP must ensure smooth LG polls. This entails taking action against those who violated the ECP code of conduct—according to ECP data, the total number of reported violations of the code stood at 154, with the PTI responsible for 87 (56.49 percent) of these, whereas PML-N committed 10 (6.49 percent) violations while the number of violations by JUI-F and Jamaat-e-Islami remained eight (5.19 percent) each. While violations relating to the recent Elections Act, 2017 are a grey area, the ECP in the meantime must take action against the clear-cut allegations of rigging and dishonesty against some candidates, some of which have been caught on camera.