(PTI) Chairman Imran Khan again hit out at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday for “deliberately not holding local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa”, ignoring the fact his party’s provincial government was yet to update its local government (LG) rules to conform with the new LG law passed by the KP Assembly.
The ECP has asked the KP LG secretary several times to fulfil the mandatory requirement and provide them with the new rules. But according a senior ECP official, the KP government has not responded so far.
“The current rules don’t reflect the spirit of the new LG law, which the KP assembly has already passed,” he said, adding that there were around a dozen anomalies, which the KP government needed to rectify to bring the rules in line with the new law. A formal request to hold LG elections in the province from the KP government had landed at the commission and would be taken up some time this week. The PTI also insists on conducting elections through biometric machines, a time-consuming exercise which requires elaborate arrangements. “The KP government is ready to hold LG elections on November 15,” Mr Khan was quoted as saying in a press statement issued by the PTI media cell on Sunday.
Mr Khan also claimed that the KP government was even ready to hold local polls in March of this year, but the ECP delayed the exercise. “There are no concerns over rigging in KP, so the fresh demarcation of constituencies is not necessary and the government of KP must be allowed to hold LG polls next month to fulfil its commitment to the people of the province,” the PTI chairman said. Mr Khan, in the statement, also asked why the ECP was unwilling to allow electronic voting in the province. “The ECP’s decision to only allow electronic voting in one tehsil is inexplicable as the KP government has sought to have the same across the whole province,”
The ECP has suggested that instead using e-voting machines throughout the province, they should be deployed in one tehsil as a test-case and the exercise should be replicated if the experience was good enough. Pouring further scorn on the ECP, Mr Khan said in the statement that the commission had continued to fail in its functions and following its increasingly questionable performance in the 2013 general elections, the ECP should be constituted afresh as a truly independent body. Mr Khan also pointed to the delaying tactics of the National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in allowing the election tribunal to proceed with verification in NA 122 first with stay orders then with demanding that the tribunal judge be changed. “The ECP is abetting this delay by not setting aside this last demand, thus bringing the proceedings of the tribunal to a halt,” he said.
When asked why the PTI is asking the ECP to hold LG elections in KP if the party has reservations over its impartiality, party spokesperson Dr Shireen Mazari said, “That is why we want electronic voting. Remember we won KP despite rigging, so our government can ensure fair and free LG polls even if the ECP is becoming overtly partisan”. PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi dismissed the question of the amended LG rules, saying that it was just a matter of “one sitting with the ECP”. “On one pretext or the other, the ECP wants to put LG elections in KP on hold, because the commission doesn’t want to put pressure on Punjab and Sindh,” he said. -dawn