Home Latest News ECP Directs Punjab Government to Enact Local Body Laws within 7 Days

ECP Directs Punjab Government to Enact Local Body Laws within 7 Days

CEC lashes out at PTI’s demand for EVMs, saying implementing the devices in haste will make elections controversial

by Staff Report


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday directed the Government of Punjab to enact legislation for local government elections in the province within a week, warning that if it did not do so, polling will be conducted in accordance with the existing laws.

On Oct. 7, the ECP had taken notice of the delay in conducting local body polls in Punjab—the province’s previous local body setup expired in 2021—and summoned the provincial chief secretary and local government secretary to appear before it on Oct. 18 (today). Hearing the case on the repeated postponement of local government elections in Punjab, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja warned the provincial government that its ongoing failure to comply with the ECP’s demands fell under contempt.

Noting that the Punjab government was violating Supreme Court orders by delaying the local body polls, he said the ECP was sending a reference to the Supreme Court to convey its concerns over the provincial government’s actions. “We will no longer hold any talks with the provincial government; we will only issue our decision,” he said, lamenting that there had been no local government in Punjab for 10 months.

During proceedings, the special secretary of the ECP said a schedule for by-polls in Punjab had been issued on April 14, 2022, but was stayed by the Lahore High Court two weeks later. He said the Punjab government had dissolved the previous local government in April 2019, restoring it on the orders of the Supreme Court in October 2021—just two months before its constitutional term expired.

The special secretary added that the provincial government had then repeatedly amended the elections laws, preventing the conduct of elections, noting that the ECP had already spent public funds for delimitations twice, which should be recovered from the Punjab government.

Addressing the ECP bench, the Punjab chief secretary claimed the Punjab Assembly was deliberating on the local body legislation and it would be enacted before it was prorogued. “Only a debate on EVMs is taking place,” he added.

Referring to the PTI—which has a coalition government in Punjab with the PMLQ—demanding the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) for polling, the CEC said only two countries, Brazil and India, were currently using EVMs. The number of polling stations in local government elections was greater than any other election, he said.

“Should we now get into the EVM debate? Will anyone take responsibility if the election process faces some problems?” he asked, citing a study that had found elections become controversial if EVMs are implemented in haste. “We cannot afford to launch EVMs on whims and cause anarchy in the country,” he said, claiming that the Punjab government appeared to want anarchy to spread in the country.

Under Article 140A of the Constitution and Section 219(4) of the Elections Act, the ECP is bound to hold elections within 120 days of the expiry of the term of local government institutions.

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