A new challenge for the PTI government

In a few months the whole country will be in the grip of LG elections.

No ruling party in Pakistan wants to share resources and powers with the local governments. Attempts are made to delay the local government elections as long as possible. This leads the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of Pakistan to intervene to fulfill a constitutional requirement.

Local governments completed their tenure in Balochistan in 2019 but a fresh election has continued to be delayed on one pretext or another. The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday gave one month to the government of Balochistan to complete the process for holding the elections.

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In Sindh the elected local governments were dissolved in August 2020 after completing their lawful term. The ECP has issued a final deadline of two weeks to the Sindh government to provide prerequisites for holding local government elections in the province.

Attempts by the ruling PTI to wish away the local body polls in the two provinces ruled by it have been foiled. What worries the ruling party is that a defeat in these elections is likely to be considered a verdict against the PTI which could influence the forthcoming general elections. This explains why the KP government has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the Peshawar High Court’s decision to hold LB polls in the province on party-basis. It is curious that despite winning a majority in the recent AJK and Gilgt-Baltistan polls and claims of being ahead of other competitors in Cantonment Boards polls, the PTI should be afraid of losing the elections in its stronghold if they are fought on party basis.

Soon after assuming power in Punjab the PTI government had prematurely dissolved the local bodies’ structure. The Supreme Court, however, restored the bodies. Meanwhile the Punjab government has been told to hold LB elections in the province in the first quarter of next year. The directives have mobilised Punjab CM Usman Buzdar. Not that he did anything exta to improve law and order in Lahore or implement the agreed measures to bring down pollution. Instead he spent eight hours with important MNAs and MPAs, assuring each one of resolving their problems.

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The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]

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