Keeping in mind the immensity of the task of carrying out the local government (LG) elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan proposed a three-phase method for conducting the exercise. Not only will it transform the exercise into one that is more manageable but it will also ensure that the whole event progresses smoothly. While we can accept this new initiative, what cannot be condoned is the inordinate delay in the election courtesy of provincial governments’ dilly-dallying. Deciding a definite day along with establishing a solid deadline for overcoming all internal problems is sorely needed.
In comparison to the general elections, there is no denying that the process of carrying out the LG election is much more trying. They contain more constituencies, require more ballots, encourage immensely large gatherings and their extensive nature makes them all the more exhausting and time consuming. Thus, dividing the elections into three phases may just ensure that they are carried out diligently and responsibly.
However, as government bodies decide on how to manoeuvre around the magnitude of the event, all provinces seem to be citing various reasons as to why the election should be delayed further. The KP government stated the risks of holding elections amidst the virus along with the pending administrative issues due to its merger with tribal areas should warrant a delay. Similarly, the Sindh government found population-based elections problematic based on the changes in their demographic just as the Punjab government endorsed its want of a division-wise election. Meanwhile, the Balochistan High Court suspended the matter of LG election altogether. Clearly, not only is inefficiency a major problem to be noted here but also a lack of understanding with regard to the importance of these elections.
The only way forward right now should start with a directive by the federal government that calls for all particular provincial problems to be solved within a specific timeframe—or for solutions to be proposed at the very least. Then, a final date for the LG elections needs to be decided and adhered to strictly.