The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday announced it is postponing local body elections in Karachi, originally scheduled for Oct. 23, adding that it will review the situation again after 15 days and determine if polls can go forward.
Earlier, the Sindh government had written to the ECP, informing it that it would be unable to provide police for security at polling stations, as law enforcement personnel were busy with their duties in flood-hit areas of the province. It had claimed there was a shortage of 16,785 personnel and recommended that the federal government be requested to fulfil the requirement from the Army and Rangers. The provincial government had also requested the ECP to postpone the polls for three months.
“The Election Commission made every effort to hold local bodies’ polls in Karachi and a meeting was held with the interior secretary a day prior in this regard,” read a statement issued by the ECP. It said the ministry had been asked to ensure the availability of Army and Rangers for security but had been informed that their services would only be available in the form of a Quick Response Force.
“The ECP had no option but to postpone the local government elections in Karachi for the time being,” it said, adding that the peaceful conduct of elections and the protection of voters was its top priority.
The second phase of the local government elections in Sindh was originally due to take place on July 24. However, it was postponed twice due to unprecedented rains and floods. The most recent delay has been met with criticism from opposition parties in Sindh, with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami alleging it was a “conspiracy” to deprive the people of Karachi of their fundamental right for representation.