- ECP wants federal and provincial govts to pass legislation well before local govt’s term expires.
- Proposes binding respective governments to enact amendments to LG laws well in time.
- One of proposed amendments envisages that “commission may, by order in official gazette”.
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has proposed key amendments to the legal framework to prevent any delay in the holding of timely grass-roots level polls, which will put an end to the governments’ hesitation in conducting local elections.
The 14-page order issued by the electoral body on the postponement of LG polls in the federal capital made a passing reference to these amendments. However, the proposed amendments were thrashed out by its law wing.
The election commission wants federal and provincial governments to pass legislation well before a local government’s term expires so that the subsequent electoral process is not hampered.
As per the draft proposal, an amendment has been proposed to Section 219 of the Elections Act, 2017, to bind the respective governments to enact amendments to the local government laws and administrative units well in time.
The proposed amendment to the section says, “The federal government, or as the case may be, the provincial government shall make necessary arrangements, including amendments to the existing local government laws and rules, and change or alteration in the administrative limits of districts, tehsils, and local areas, before the expiry of the term of local government.”
Likewise, proposed provisos read that the federal government, or as the case may be, the provincial government, shall not alter the administrative limits of districts, tehsils, and urban and rural local areas after the expiry of the term of the local government.
“Provided that, in case the existing local government system is required to be replaced completely with the new local government system or substantially altered during its currency by any government, then such enactment shall be made by an act of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or the Provincial Assembly, as the case may be, at least one year before the expiry of the local government province, cantonment, Islamabad Capital Territory, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or a part thereof.”
One of the proposed amendments envisages that “the commission may, by order in the official gazette, make provisions for the conduct of local government elections if no provision or insufficient provision has been made under this act or the rules.”
The commission justifies the proposed changes by explaining that Article 32 of the Constitution provides that the state shall encourage local government institutions to be composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned, and in such institutions, the special representation will be given to peasants, workers, and women. The draft also says Article 140-A (1) provides that each province shall by law establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative, and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representative of the local governments. The conduct of local government elections is addressed in Chapter XIII of the Elections Act of 2017.
Therefore, the election commission, under Article 140-A(2) read with Article 219(d) of the Constitution, is under obligation to hold local government elections. Article 218(3) of the Constitution casts a duty upon the commission to organise and conduct elections and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly, and by the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against.
“The commission has always strived to hold timely local government elections in order to fulfil its constitutional obligation, but the federal and provincial governments repeal or amend local government laws even after the expiry of the term of the local government, causing an inordinate delay in the conduct of the election and the commission faces difficulty in fulfilling its constitutional duty.” “It is now established that local government is the third tier of the state, and delay in the election of local government offends Article 32, 140-A(1), and 219(d) of the Constitution and also hampers the devolution of powers at the grass-roots level,” the document says.
Similarly, the election commission has also proposed an amendment to Article 140-A of the Constitution, and it seeks to add sub-clause 3 to Article 140-A, providing the same changes as in Section 219 of the Elections Act, whereas Section 219 of the act in its present form reads: “The Commission shall conduct elections to the local governments under the applicable local government law and the rules framed thereunder, as may apply to a province, cantonments, Islamabad Capital Territory, or federally administered tribal areas.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the voting procedure for direct elections to the local governments in a province, cantonments, Islamabad Capital Territory, or federally administered tribal areas shall be the same as provided for an election to the assemblies under this act. “Subject to subsection (4), the Commission shall, in consultation with the federal or provincial government, announce the date or dates on which the elections to a local government shall be conducted in a province, cantonment, Islamabad Capital Territory, federally administered tribal areas, or a part thereof. “The Commission shall hold elections to the local governments within one hundred and twenty days of the expiry of the terms of the local governments of a province, cantonment, Islamabad Capital Territory, or federally administered tribal areas.
“The Commission shall organise and conduct elections under this Chapter and shall make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the elections are conducted honestly, justly, fairly, and by the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against. “The Commission may, by order in the official gazette, make provisions for the conduct of local government elections if no provision or insufficient provision has been made under this Act or the Rules.
“Article 140-A (1) of the Constitution states that each province is bound to establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative, and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments by law, and Article 140-A (2) reads, “Elections to the local governments shall be held by the Election Commission of Pakistan.”
It remains to be seen how governments will react to this proposed document and what shape it will take if and when it is taken up for deliberation. It is anticipated that the federal and provincial governments may view this draft differently.
Imran Khan surpasses political rivals in popularity survey: Miftah
- Miftah, Abbasi, Khokhar testing waters for launch of a political party.
- Khokar is more keen to launch the party than the other two.
- There is space for launching a new political party, they believe.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Miftah Ismail has said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan had surpassed all political leaders in popularity in a recent opinion poll, The News reported on Wednesday.
Miftah along with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Mustafa Khokhar, who had earlier come up with the idea of seminars on “Reimagining Pakistan”, is also presently testing waters for the launch of a political party.
Miftah told The News no decision has been taken as yet, but presently they are seriously thinking on the issue.
He disclosed that they had also done a public opinion survey in July this year, which showed Imran way ahead of all in popularity.
What Abbasi said about his political future in Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and about the need for a new political party is part of the trio’s strategy to test the waters before reaching a final decision.
Abbasi, Miftah, and Mustafa are presently discussing the launch of a political party with different people besides encouraging discussion on the issue in the media and social media to assess whether it is a doable option.
Among the three, Khokar is more keen to launch the party than the other two who are not fully clear as yet whether they should do it or not.
All three, according to Miftah, agree there is space for launching a new political party in the present political situation. The question, he said, remains whether they have the capacity to attract people to join a new political party.
Through a leading entity, conducting public opinion polls, Miftah said they have also got a survey done to assess the popularity of different political parties and leaders. Their reading of the survey report made them reach the conclusion of a need for a new political party.
The three believe a significant number of voters, who are presently inclined towards Imran Khan and PTI for their rejection of PML-N, can be attracted by a new political party because neither the staunch supporters of Imran Khan nor of Nawaz would vote for any other political party.
In view of the post-May 9 difficult situations faced by Imran Khan and his party, the PTI, it is believed the new political party may attract significant voters (not the staunch supporters) of the PTI, who would never vote for PMLN or other political party in Punjab.
Among the three, Khokhar, left the PPP after the party’s leadership objected to his certain statements criticising powerful quarters. Miftah got the cold shoulder from the PML-N top leadership for publicly defending his economic solutions, which are different from that of Ishaq Dar’s.
Miftah also criticised Dar’s policies as finance minister and argued that he too was criticised as finance minister by Dar. However, his criticism of Dar’s policies has made him an alien to Sharifs.
Abbasi has started distancing himself from the PML-N top leadership for the last several months. The PML-N top leadership was keen not to let Abbasi drift from them, but the latter sounded dissatisfied with the politics of all the three leading political parties including PML-N.
Abbasi also did not show his keenness in the PML-N ticket for the next elections, while he had already declined to continue as senior vice-president of the party after Maryam Nawaz was announced as senior vice-president and chief organiser of PML-N.
On the direction of Nawaz Sharif, Maryam had visited Abbasi at the latter’s residence in Islamabad to convince him not to leave the office of senior vice-president of PMLN. Shahid had politely declined. Now, he appears to be quitting the PML-N anytime.
What will happen when Nawaz Sharif lands in Pakistan?
- Nawaz Sharif to attend rally on Oct 21, appear before court the next day.
- “Consultations being held on seeking protective bail from another court.”
- Dastagir adds that Nawaz can get nation out of difficulties even today.
LAHORE: The legal minds of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are holding consultations on challenges party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif faces upon his return to the country, it emerged on Tuesday.
Speaking to Geo News, former federal minister Khurram Dastagir said that Nawaz will go to attend a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan after landing at the Lahore airport on October 21 and will appear before a court the next day.
However, he added, the party is holding discussions on legal matters for the intervening period between his arrival and appearance before the respective court and consultations are being held on seeking protective bail from another court [to avoid arrest].
The former prime minister has been in London since November 2019 after he left the country for medical treatment. He was serving a jail term in corruption cases when the Lahore High Court (LHC) allowed him to seek treatment from abroad.
On Monday, Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti created a stir when he said that the PML-N supremo would be arrested upon return but backtracked his remarks following a strong response from the party.
The PML-N is preparing for a grand reception for Nawaz and plans to hold a massive rally of 1 million people in their stronghold — Lahore.
Dastagir, while responding to a question, said that the former premier had gone abroad on the permission granted to him by two courts and would enter with their approval.
“An appeal is pending before a court and Nawaz Sharif will pursue it upon return,” he said.
The former minister added that people should understand that those responsible for the corruption are those who have been doing political engineering since 2014.
“The situation was bad in 2013 but Nawaz Sharif brought the country out of the worst situation and even today, he can get the nation out of these difficulties.”
To a question, Dastagir said the 15-party coalition is responsible for the successes and failures of the 16-month government.
“PML-N’s 16-month performance is a story of pulling the country out of crises,” he added.
When asked about the reports of the formation of a new political party, he responded, “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should have told that there is peace in Karachi today and credit goes to the PML-N.”
Referring to the spike in militancy in the country, the PML-N leader said the terrorism that is increasing today is because of Imran Khan and Arif Alvi who offered amnesty to the Taliban in 2021.
About a rumoured “secret” meeting of Shehbaz Sharif earlier this month, he said, “I do not know about the meeting in Gujranwala, I cannot deny or confirm it.”
Senate committee recommends ECP hold polls within 90 days
- Committee recommends ECP announce polls schedule at earliest.
- ECP official says preliminary delimitations will be published on Sep 27.
- About 60 days are required for filing and disposal of representations, ECP.
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct elections within 90 days by reducing the time for filing representations for delimitation from 30 to seven days, The News reported.
In a meeting presided over by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Taj Haider, the committee also drew the electoral body’s attention towards its constitutional obligation of holding polls in the context of the National Assembly’s dissolution.
The Senate panel recommended that the commission announce the schedule of the election at the earliest to ensure clarity on the uncertainty around conducting elections.
Briefing the committee on the polls-related matters, ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan said the preliminary delimitations will be published on September 27.
However, he explained a period of approximately 60 days will be required for filing and disposal of representations.
He told the committee that some 91,809 polling stations were to be established out of which 49,919 had been designated as sensitive or highly sensitive.
He pointed out that out of the 49,919 polling stations, 17,411 had been categorised as highly sensitive and another 32,508 as sensitive while 41,809 (around 45%) were designated as normal.
He contended that the general election will encompass 266 National Assembly constituencies and 593 provincial assemblies’ constituencies. Moreover, he noted around 1 million polling staff will be required for the upcoming general election.
The committee inquired about the methods for the consolidation of results. The secretary of ECP said electronic devices having ECP-developed software will be used to send snapshots of Form-45 to returning officers and software was also equipped to keep track of time and place of snapshots in order to ensure the legitimacy of elections.
Regarding the use of funds for development schemes, Senator Haider emphasised that funds should be allocated to the approved schemes. The secretary ECP explained that there was no ban on development schemes approved prior to August 15.
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