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ECP suggests key amendments to ensure timely LG polls

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  • 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.

Pakistan

Maryam Nawaz honours ASP Shehr Bano For His Extraordinary Courage

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Maryam Nawaz, the PML-N’s nominee for chief minister of Punjab, honours young police officer Shehr Bano for displaying extraordinary bravery, insight, and courage.

According to Maryam Nawaz, if the female police officer hadn’t arrived in time, a catastrophe may have happened.

The country is proud of you, she said as she praised Shehr Bano.

According to Maryam Nawaz, Shehr Bano maintained humanity and the law in the face of pressure, numbers, and circumstances.

She stated that it is required of every police officer to contribute to the defence of individuals’ lives and property.

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Pakistan

The BISP WhatsApp channel has been launched.

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In order to assist both its recipients and regular residents, the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has opened a WhatsApp channel where it posts information about all of its programmes and dispels false statements.

To acquire all the information about the scheme, the BISP advised current and potential beneficiaries to follow the official WhatsApp channel.

The following web URL allows individuals to follow the BISP WhatsApp channel.

The channel number on WhatsApp is 0029VaL06DJ9Bb602I388U2l.

Earlier, the National Telecommunication Corporation and the BISP established a state-of-the-art call centre to offer genuine information about the plan and the issues.

The individuals can contact the call centre at 080026477 to register complaints or seek information about the programme.

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Pakistan

Bushra Bibi challenges the Nikah case’s verdict in court.

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According to specifics, Bushra Bibi’s attorney, Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry, entered a plea on her behalf, requesting that the trial court’s decision from February 3 be deemed invalid.

Salman Akram Raja, Salman Safdar, and other individuals will also be parties in this action, while Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka and the federal government have been named respondents in the plea.

According to the plea, the former first lady went to her mother’s house in August 2017 after divorcing in April.

Furthermore, the ruling is unlawful, immoral, and un-Islamic because the matter pertaining to Bushra Bibi and Khan’s nikah was outside the court’s jurisdiction.

In a case concerning their marriage during the latter’s Iddat era, a court in Islamabad earlier this year condemned former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi to seven years in prison apiece.

The decision on the lawsuit submitted by Bushra’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka in a temporary court at Adiala jail was announced by senior civil judge Qudratullah. The pair was also fined Rs 500,000 apiece by the court.

Bushra Bibi and Imran Khan’s marriage
In February 2018, the former prime minister married Bushra Bibi in Lahore.

Only the bride’s mother and other close relatives and friends were present for the ceremony. The sisters of the PTI founder, however, were not present.

Former SAPM Zulfi Bukhari and Awn Chaudhary, leaders of the Pakitan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), were present when Mufti Saeed conducted the nikah.

Bibi’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka had petitioned the court last year, arguing that the marriage was unlawful and in violation of Sharia law.

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