3,013 LG seats for non-Muslims to stay vacant in KP

 21 Feb 2016 - 10:33

3,013 LG seats for non-Muslims to stay vacant in KP

 

 

 

ISLAMABAD: Of total 3,500 special seats reserved for non-Muslims in different tiers of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province’s local councils, as many as 3013 seats will remain vacant permanently as nobody is interested in contesting for them.

Thirty-three candidates for the reserved seats have returned unchallenged while just four seats are being competed in the February 21 polls, an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) official said.
 
The district, union, village and neighbourhood councils across KP will have the vacant special seats. However, this large number of vacancies that will exist in the local governments for their full term is unexpected to affect their working.
 
A total of 4,491 seats will be at stake in the February 21 fight. They are the constituencies where elections were either not held for different reasons in last year’s local polls across KP or the polling was declared null and void by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for administrative mismanagement and law and order chaos that gripped the province, which has a total of 42,000 seats in all layers of local bodies.
 
The KP is the only province after Balochistan where the local governments started functioning after the elections.
 
On the other hand, a long time is still required to make the local councils functional in Punjab and Sindh. The three-phase elections, starting on October 31 in these provinces, concluded on December 5.
 
So even after the lapse of nearly four months, consumed by the exercise, the elected bodies are far away from starting their normal work.
 
The delay is being caused mainly because the ECP has not been able to organize the penultimate stage of the exercise filling of thousands of special seats due to clear confusion in the local laws of Punjab and Sindh and the changes made by the two governments to clear the uncertainty. Their amendments have been challenged in high courts.
 
As per the existing laws, the reserved seats can’t be filled up through party-basis elections under which the local polls were held.
 
The ECP proposed to Punjab and Sindh that it can overcome the confusion in the laws by allotting different election symbols (not the ones earmarked to the political parties) to the candidates sponsored by the parties.
 
However, the two provincial governments did not agree and some parties disputed this party-less mode, saying that when the local polls were held on party basis, the process to fill up the special seats should not be non-party based.
 
The Punjab government amended the law and introduced proportional representation system, which is applicable to filling of special seats in the national and provincial assemblies.
 
It has been challenged by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and some others in the Lahore High Court (LHC), which is yet to take a decision.
 
Under this mechanism, there will be no election for reserved seats, and these will filled up as per the lists of candidates furnished by the political parties to the ECP as per their numerical strength in the local councils. This is precisely done in the national and provincial assemblies.
 
The Sindh government also changed the mode of election of mayors, deputy mayors and other local representatives from secret balloting to show of hands.
 
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and others challenged it in the Sindh High Court (SHC), which set its aside.
 
The Sindh government appealed against it in the Supreme Court, which stayed the election of mayors and deputy mayors and will resume hearing on the plea on March 3.
 
Till that time, the detailed judgment of the SHC may also be available. The court wants to hear the matter in detail.
 
The Sindh government contended that amendment was made with the intention of conducting the election to of mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen, vice chairmen and reserved seats in transparent, fair and free manner to avoid corrupt practices which is the mandate of article 219 of the Constitution.
 
After the decision of the apex court, the last hurdle in the way of election of mayors and others will be cleared in Sindh. But the issue will persist in Punjab till the LHC ruling and then the judgment of the Supreme Court if this decision was called into question there.

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