ECP, postpones, Islamabad local body polls

Govt argues for increasing local body seats, political parties disagree

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday postponed local body elections in Islamabad which were earlier scheduled for December 31.

During a hearing related to the matter, presided over by the chief election commissioner, Advocate General Jahangir Jadoon and former attorney general Ashtar Ausaf appeared on behalf of the federal government and argued in support of expanding union councils in the federal capital.

Ausaf argued that the population of Islamabad has increased, which in turn, has increased the need for more union councils. He added that previously, the number of union councils was increased from 50 to 101.

Countering the argument, Member Nisar Durrani stated that the number of union councils was expanded to 101 in June, and wondered how has the population of the federal capital increased by a significant number since then.

Another member, Ikramullah Khan, said ECP data shows that there has been no significant increase in the city’s population. The CEC stated that the electoral body has conducted delimitation of constituencies twice in the federal capital and asked why did the federal government consider expanding the number of union councils earlier.

The counsel of PTI leader Ali Nawaz Awan, Babar Awan, opposed an increase in local body seats and said the relevant bill has not been passed yet and added it may not receive final approval as of yet.

Awan urged the electoral body to hold the elections on Dec 31. The lawyer representing the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Hasan Javed, also argued in favour of holding the local body polls. He further said the people of the federal capital have not had representation at the union council level for the past two years.

Hearing arguments from both sides, the electoral watchdog decided to approve the federal government’s plea and postponed the local body polls in Islamabad.

The commission stated in the decision that the elections were postponed as a result of a ruling by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

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