Yet again, the Sindh government filed a request for the delay of the local government elections that were scheduled to be held on January 15, stating that political leaders were under a threat from aggressors but failing to provide further details. Fortunately, the Election Commission of Pakistan stuck to the precedent it set previously and asserted that the polls will be held on time, especially considering this is a constitutional responsibility of the provincial governments. Already these elections have been delayed twice, a third time is unacceptable.
If the problem is with the lack of security, the entire province’s police force is at the disposal of the government. Accordingly, they can be designated to particular areas that are felt to be high risk. The ECP is also right in stating that the army cannot abandon all its responsibilities fighting rising terrorism to facilitate these local body elections which have been given priority by most law enforcement already. Regardless of such reservations, it has also instructed the interior ministry to station some army troops near the most sensitive polling stations so that no grievances can be voiced later on. Despite all this, stating that those very elections that all stakeholders had been preparing for ‘must be delayed’, that too on such short notice, seems only like a tactic to buy more time to gain an advantage over opponents.
It is good to see that despite the pressure mounting on the ECP, it has not backed down and is still insisting that polls must be held according to schedule. As a democratic state, it is our responsibility to ensure that elections are held, and that too in a timely fashion because the inability to do so interferes with the daily governance of the nation. We have already stretched the line too thin, and now it is time to assume responsibility and take action.