ECP rejects Sindh govt’s decision to postpone local bodies elections in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadu

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ECP lawmakers

Islamabad: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Friday rejected the Sindh government’s decision to postpone the second phase of local bodies elections in Sindh in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Dadu.

A four-member bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja decided that the local bodies in the three divisions will be held per schedule on January 15.

Just when it seemed that the second phase of local bodies elections in Sindh was finally going to take place on January 15 after repeated delays, the Sindh government again put off the polls citing MQM-P’s reservations over the delimitations of the constituencies.

According to the announcement, polls in seven districts – Tando Allahyar, Tando Muhammad Khan, Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, and Jamshoro – will go ahead as planned on January 15.

Addressing a press conference in the early hours of Friday, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon announced that the Sindh government had withdrawn the notification regarding the delimitations of the constituencies in Karachi and Hyderabad because of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) reservations.

While in the case of Dadu, the Sindh government mentioned that a large area was still underwater and that the general population still had connectivity issues. It said that holding local bodies elections there will deprive a large segment of society of using their constitutional right to vote.

“They (MQM-P) are our allies in the federal government and we take the concerns of our allies very seriously,” the minister said, ruling out that the decision was taken under duress.

The decision came after an emergency meeting of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), presided by party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and attended by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, provincial ministers, and the district presidents of the party’s Karachi chapter, among others.

Second phase of local bodies elections in Karachi, Hyderabad to be held on Jan. 15 per schedule: ECP announces

On Monday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that the second phase of the local bodies elections in Karachi and Hyderabad will be held per schedule on January 15.

The ECP had turned down a petition by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), in which the party had sought the local bodies elections to be held on the new voter lists.

Second phase

Last year, the ECP announced that the second phase of the local government polls in Karachi and Hyderabad would be held on July 24, 2022. However, the devastating floods of 2022 compelled the ECP to postpone the elections.

The electoral body rescheduled the LG elections for August 28, but they were put off again due to the same reason. The commission had said that most of the polling stations had been rendered inaccessible for the voters.

On October 18, 2022, the ECP rescheduled the elections for October 23, but the provincial government sought their postponement for three months because it had deployed police in the flooded areas, due to which it was unable to provide the required level of security to the polling stations.

After repeated delays, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) moved the Sindh High Court, which on November 15, 2022, instructed the ECP to announce the date for the LG elections within 15 days.

Sindh govt again postpones local bodies elections in Karachi, Hyderabad, Dadu