A woman casts her vote in Pakistans general election at a polling station during the general election in Lahore, Pakistan, on July 25, 2018. — AFP

A woman casts her vote in Pakistan’s general election at a polling station during the general election in Lahore, Pakistan, on July 25, 2018. — AFP 
  • Political parties laud ECP’s decision to conduct elections. 
  • Khuhro says PPP would also win in second phase of LG polls. 
  • PPP, MQM-P file nomination papers of members for Senate by-polls.

KARACHI: Political parties — including Sindh’s ruling PPP — hailed the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to hold local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad on January 15, 2023.

A day earlier, the commission directed relevant authorities including the Sindh government, chief secretary, and the inspector-general of police to ensure local body polls are held on the said date and asked to ensure a sufficient number of security personnel are available for election duty.

Talking to the reporters in Karachi, PPP Sindh President Nisar Ahmed Khuhro said the provincial government is prepared to ensure the smooth conduct of the second phase of the LG polls.

He claimed that the PPP would also win in the second phase of the elections in the manner that the party had clinched victory in the first phase. 

He said that the post-flood situation in the two divisions has improved enough to hold the second phase of the polls.

Separately, in a statement released by the PTI, the party’s Karachi President Bilal Ghaffar lauded the ECP’s announcement of the date for holding the local body polls. 

He hoped that “this time the ECP would hold the LG elections in accordance with the constitution and the law”. Ghaffar said people are fed up with the provincial government for “using delaying tactics to postpone the second phase of the LG polls”.

The PTI’s parliamentary party leader in the provincial assembly, Khurram Sher Zaman, however, pointed out that only announcing the date of the elections is not enough because it is also important to ensure the polls are held in a transparent manner.

“There is a dire need for an LG system based on local representatives in Karachi. LG systems around the world are like the backbone of a strong state.” 

He claimed that the PPP and the MQM-P have been running away from the LG elections to avoid showing their faces to the people, but now the people will hold them accountable.

The JI also released a statement to hail the ECP’s decision. The party’s Karachi chief Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman also demanded that the electoral body prevent the PPP government from “conspiring against the LG polls”.

He also asked the provincial government to stop its “anti-democratic behaviour”, saying that an empowered LG set-up is crucial to resolving the pressing issues of Karachi and its people. 

Rehman demanded that the ruling party empower the LG set-up in light of Article 140-A of the constitution and in accordance with the Supreme Court’s verdict.

He claimed that the MQM-P and the PPP together deprived the LG set-up of its administrative and financial powers. “Once again the two parties are supporting the feudal mindset against the masses by opposing the LG elections.”

He also claimed that both parties are afraid of the JI’s popularity among the masses, so “the ministers have resorted to undemocratic means to threaten the people of Karachi”. 

The JI chief pointed out that the PPP government claimed to be unable to provide police personnel for election duty in Nazimabad, but provided hundreds of policemen for taking action against the residents of Mujahid Colony in the same neighbourhood.

Rehman said government institutions and officials are equally responsible for encroachments across the city, lamenting that only the common people are punished and deprived of their homes without any compensation or alternative accommodation.

Moreover, addressing a meeting of the PSP’s LG poll candidates in District Keamari, the party’s Chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal also praised the ECP’s decision. 

“The PSP is fully prepared for the elections. Although there are many flaws in the current LG system that should be rectified, we still welcome the polls.”

Kamal said that the only solution to the public’s problems is the devolution of powers and resources to the grassroots level. 

The PSP has been struggling for the transfer of powers and resources to the lowest level since day one, he added. “We have built Karachi, and now we’ll fix Karachi and Hyderabad again.”

Senate polls

Meanwhile, PPP and MQM-P filed the nomination papers of their respective members for next month’s Senate by-election to the seat held by the PPP’s Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar until his resignation earlier this month.

Last week, the electoral body had asked the members of the Sindh Assembly to elect a member of the Senate from the province against a general seat. The by-poll will be held on December 8.

Khuhro submitted Waqar Mehdi’s nomination papers for the Senate by-election while MQM-P’s Muhammad Hussain submitted the nomination papers of the party’s Ahmed Salim Siddiqui, Sabeen Ghori and Tariq Mansoor. 

He told the journalists on the occasion that the party leadership will announce the ticket for the final candidate after consultation. 

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