ISLAMABAD (A News ) – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was instructed by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday to conduct local government elections in the federal capital on Saturday (Dec 31).
The commission had previously notified the court that it was prepared to organise local government elections in the federal capital in four months. This was noted in the top electoral body’s response after the high court asked it to propose a schedule for conducting elections in Islamabad.
The LG elections in the capital city were set for December 31, but the ECP delayed them owing to the government’s decision to increase the number of union councils (UCs) in the city. The ECP said that it was committed about fulfilling its constitutional obligation to conduct elections on schedule, while blaming the federal and provincial governments for the delay in the LG polls.
It said that late revisions to legislation by governments caused barriers in the path of LG elections, and that the ECP had issued a timetable for the polls in Islamabad, but it was pronounced null and invalid by the high court. The ECP also suggested changes to Election Act 219 and Article 140-A of the Constitution, stating that the changes will prevent governments from modifying legislation while elections are approaching.
The IHC directed the top election authority on Thursday to submit the updated timeframe for local government elections on Friday after consulting with the federal government. Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, who heard the petitions filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Jamaat-e-Islami challenging the commission’s notification of the postponement of the LG elections in the federal capital, also requested written arguments from the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The court questioned an ECP official whether the commission was prepared to hold elections on December 31 since the government had referred the subject to it.
The ECP director general said that transporting electoral materials will take time. In the current scenario, elections on December 31 were not conceivable. According to the commission’s counsel, the federal government was authorised under the election legislation to raise the number of UCs in the capital.
Following the hearing, the court directed the AGP and the ECP to file written responses by Friday.