Local government elections in Islamabad were last held in 2015, seven years ago. If all goes according to plan, the next local government elections may be held by the end of this year.

This happy development came about just this week when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday issued the final list of 101 constituencies (union councils). If the ECP remains determined to see that these local government elections are held timely, or relatively timely since a long delay has already been accrued, it has overcome the biggest challenge of the delimitation of constituencies and will now be able to issue the schedule for the local government elections any time. If the schedule is issued any time the next week, the local government elections could be held as soon as within two months of the date of publication of a schedule.

According to the Elections Act, 2017, new elections must be held within 12 days of the expiry of the last local government. That timeline has well expired, as the last local government in Islamabad completed its five year tenure in February 2021. Therefore, while the finalising of constituencies for the Islamabad local government elections is a welcome development, one would not be faulted for being trepid about the timeline due to the context of delays and sabotage of local government elections. All political parties have sadly led to this unfortunate situation.

The former PTI government failed to hold the elections on time as, apparently, it wanted to get the elections held under a new Local Government Act. After the PTI government finally relented and an election schedule fixing July 31 was published by the ECP, the PML-N, PPP and PTI filed a petition in Islamabad High Court, demanding that instead of holding the elections in 50 union councils, the constituencies should be increased to 101. What is even more unfortunate is that in the past, even when local government elections were miraculously held, those elected were not facilitated by the provincial governments in power who were reluctant to distribute and share power as our system needs.

It is hoped that if not the federal government, the public at least keep the pressure on the ECP to now timely publish a schedule and prepare to timely conduct the elections before the end of the year.