A three-member bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, reserved it decision about the local bodies elections in Sindh, saying that the ruling would apply to all the provinces.
The bench completed the hearing of case after listening to the arguments from the additional attorney general, relevant ECP officials and Administrator Karachi Barrister Murtaza Wahab. The CEC remarked that the country’s top election supervisor would take its decision in the national interest.
During the hearing, Additional ECP Secretary Zafar Iqbal said it appeared that the provincial government of Sindh did not want to hold elections in the province for the next 18 months. He urged the bench to order the provincial government to provide maps and data to the ECP for demarcating constituencies.
In response, Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab told the bench that the Sindh government had not refused to hold the local elections. He said that if the ECP ordered for holding the local bodies elections in Sindh, the provincial government would comply.
Wahab said that the ECP should ask parliament to convene its joint session to decide on the appeal of the province regarding a flawed census in Sindh and Balochistan.
He added that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah wrote a dissenting note on the census results in a Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting.
He told the bench that the population of Sindh and Balochistan was underestimated in the census. And added that if there was any objection in the CCI meeting, the matter was referred to a joint sitting of Parliament.
Wahab asked what would happen when the local government elections were held on the basis of the current census data and the joint sitting of parliament decided later that the census results were not correct. He reminded the bench that parliament could overturn the decision.
Muhammad Arshad, the director general law told the bench that the ECP could not wait for a joint session on Sindh’s appeal. The additional attorney general said that there was no impediment in holding the elections after the decision of the CCI, adding that the election could not be delayed.
Wahab said that if the ECP order came, the Sindh government was bound to obey it. “We will hold local elections by February-March period. We are giving the timeline,” the Karachi administrator added. “We want to say that Sindh is not running away. We want to hold local bodies elections.” Later, the ECP reserved its decision after conclusion of the arguments.
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