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Local body polls in Karachi, Hyderabad to take place on January 15: ECP

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  • Election date decided after several delays.
  • CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja announces reserved verdict.
  • SHC directed ECP to announce a new schedule for polls. 

KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday announced that local government elections would take place on January 15, 2023, in Karachi and Hyderabad. 

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja — who headed the five-member bench comprising Nisar Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana, and Justice (retd) Ikram Ullah Khan — announced the verdict that the commission had reserved on November 15.

The commission directed relevant authorities including Sindh government, chief secretary, and the inspector-general of police to ensure local body polls are held on the said date under Article 220 of the Constitution and asked to ensure sufficient number of security personnel are available for election duty at the polling stations, offices of the district returning officers, returning officers (ROs), polling staff and transportation of polling material from and to the offices of the ROs.

In its verdict, the commission wrote: “Further Federal Government through Secretary Ministry of Interior is directed to provide sufficient number of security personnel from other law enforcement agencies, in accordance with the security plan for the conduct of Local Government Elections in Karachi and Hyderabad Divisions, in a peaceful manner. The office is directed to take further necessary action accordingly.”

The LG polls in Karachi were first postponed in July due to the monsoon rains in the city. The Sindh government had repeatedly sought the rescheduling of dates for the election.

As a result, the ECP deferred the local government elections multiple times due to the non-provision of security from the provincial government, which refrained from providing law enforcement personnel citing floods. 

The elections were initially scheduled for July 24, but they were delayed due to “bad weather and rains”. Then, polling was set to take place on August 28 and October 24, but the provincial government refused to provide security.

In its latest move to delay the polling further, the provincial cabinet had earlier this month approved delaying local government elections in Karachi Division for another 90 days under Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.

SHC directs ECP to announce date 

Last week, in a similar case, the Sindh High Court had directed the ECP to announce a new schedule for the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.

In its verdict on the pleas of PTI and JI, the high court directed the commission to announce a new schedule for the local body polls in both cities.

“We would not go so far as to dictate the date of the election or direct the manner in which the same ought to be conducted or policed, but would note that the ECP may notify the polling date, preferably within a period of 15 days from the date of this order,” the order mentioned.

The court demanded the ECP to specify a fresh polling date and preferably conclude the overall exercise of the “election in any event within a total period of 60 days”.

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President Asif Zardari emphasizes the importance of offering assistance to the impoverished and middle-income groups in the federal budget.

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President Asif Ali Zardari has emphasized the importance of offering assistance to the impoverished and middle-income individuals in the forthcoming federal budget for the fiscal year 2024-25.

President Asif Ali Zardari expressed these remarks during in a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The conference was attended by Ahsan Iqbal, the Federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday to request complete support from him and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) for the next budget approval.

The President pledged to offer complete cooperation in attaining the objectives for the economic and developmental advancement of the nation.

Additionally, please peruse: Overview of the 2024-25 Budget

Both parties engaged in a discussion over the current economic state of the country. In addition, they deliberated on factors regarding the provision of assistance to the general people in the forthcoming budget.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also briefed the president about his recent visit to China. Leaders of nations and governments also deliberated on the development initiatives outlined in the forthcoming budget.

President Asif Ali Zardari emphasized to the Prime Minister the importance of offering assistance to the impoverished and middle-class individuals in the forthcoming federal budget.

The government is set to unveil a budget of Rs. 18 trillion.

It is important to mention that the government is prepared to deliver a federal budget above Rs18,500 billion today (Wednesday).

The government has allotted a sum of Rs2,100 billion for defense expenditures and Rs9,700 billion for interest payments on reserved loans. An allocation of Rs. 1500 billion has been made for development projects.

The budget allocates 253 billion rupees for the energy sector, 827 billion rupees for infrastructure, 800 billion rupees for energy sector subsidy, 206 billion rupees for water resources, and 279 billion rupees for transport and communication. The budget has a GDP growth target of 3.6 percent.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will collect taxes amounting to Rs. 12,970 billion.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has been assigned a tax collection target of 12,970 billion rupees for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) would need to generate an additional revenue of 3,720 billion rupees, with 3,452 billion rupees coming from direct taxes and 267 billion rupees from customs duties, in comparison to the current financial year.

The Inland Revenue’s tax revenue is projected to reach 11,379 billion rupees, with direct taxes accounting for 5,512 billion rupees and income tax contributing 5,454 billion rupees.

The income tax volume has set an extra objective of 1773 billion rupees, bringing the total aim to 2500 billion rupees.

Conversely, the parliamentary party of PPP convened a meeting led by former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. During the meeting, assembly members voiced their apprehensions about the budget and stated that the terms upon which Shehbaz supported the government have yet to be fulfilled.

PPP leader Syed Khurshid Shah expressed his lack of knowledge on the specific details of the budget, as well as the agreements with the IMF and China, during a conversation with the media. In the past, the opposition was consulted, while an ally is not consulted.

The government is presenting a growth-oriented budget today, which amounts to Rs18,900 billion.

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Pakistan

The Prime Minister expressed deep sorrow at the demise of the Vice President of Malawi in an aviation accident.

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif conveyed his profound sorrow on the demise of Vice President Saulos Chilima of Malawi in a sad aviation accident.

The prime minister sent his support to the government and citizens of Malawi during this difficult time and offered his condolences to the grieving family.

Saulos Chilima perished in an aviation accident, alongside nine other individuals, as declared by the nation’s President Lazarus Chakwera in a national speech.

The airplane became untraceable after it was unable to successfully touch down at the Mzuzu International Airport, located around 380 kilometers north of the capital city, Lilongwe. Chakwera has announced that the plane wreckage has been found.

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The court authorizes court reporting through the use of the IHC and grants permission to the media.

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The court has authorized the media to report on court proceedings, with adherence to the guidelines specified in a Supreme Court ruling.

The Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a written ruling granting approval for the plea to delay the hearing of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and instructed that the matter be scheduled for a hearing in the first week of July.

The ruling is a result of petitions submitted by the Islamabad High Court Journalist Association, press association, and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), which contested the PEMRA announcement.

On May 24th, the IHC sent notifications to PEMRA and the information secretary after receiving a petition that questioned the authority’s prohibition on publishing judicial proceedings. The court issued an injunction preventing PEMRA from imposing any disciplinary measures on television channels based on the present notification.

The court has also issued a notice regarding a miscellaneous petition that seeks to completely halt the PEMRA notification. This lawsuit exemplifies the ongoing legal dispute regarding the control of media coverage of court proceedings and the delicate balance between media freedom and the integrity of the judiciary.

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