Local government polls in Karachi deferred till December 5 due to Muharram
Sindh has demanded that the top polls supervisory body deploy army or paramilitary troops for the first phase of the local government elections in the province.
The provincial government and district returning officers’ (DROs) demand came on Wednesday during a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (retd) Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan in Karachi.
The first phase of the LG polls is scheduled to kick off in eight districts of Larkana and Sukkur divisions on October 31.
The huddle was attended by the Sindh chief secretary, police chief, Rangers officials, DIGs, commissioners and deputy commissioners of both the divisions, and the provincial authorities of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Later, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob told a news conference that the meeting discussed printing and supply of ballot papers, polling staff and their training, transportation, funds and law and order.
“In view of tribal clashes in some areas, the DROs have asked that army or Rangers troops be deployed on the day of polling,” said Yaqoob.
“We are prepared to call in the army or the paramilitary force for the three phases of the LG elections, but the provincial government would have to tell us how many troops are required and where they should be deployed.”
Responding to a query about the opposition parties’ allegation of partiality of the ROs and election staff, he said strict action had been taken against such officers.
He was of the view that the situation in Sindh was under control. “The police chief told us that 31,000 police officials will be on election duty in eight districts, where 4.6 million voters are registered and more than 10,000 candidates are contesting the polls.”
During the meeting strict orders were issued to implement the code of conduct set by the election commission, he added.
Talking about frequent transfers and postings of government officials, Yaqoob said the ECP had asked the Sindh government to refrain from it.
Meanwhile, the ECP secretary announced that the polling body had rescheduled the third phase of the LG elections in Karachi.
He said Chehlum of Imam Hussain (RA) would be observed on December 3. “Police and security forces will be engaged in Chehlum security, which is why we have rescheduled the poll to December 5.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2015.