ECP accuses Sindh of 'usurping' its power to hold LG polls.

ISLAMABAD -- The ElecAtion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) came down hard on the Sindh government at the Tuesday hearing of pleas against the postponement of local government elections, with Chief ElecAtion CommiAssioner SikanAdar Sultan Raja accusing the provincial cabinet of usurping ECP power and telling the government to ask Punjab to provide police to meet the security shortfall.

'It is our responsibility to hold elections, you have taken this power from us,' the CEC remarked before the five-member bench he headed reserved its verdict on the matter.

ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain earlier informed the bench that the LG polls were initially postponed due to rains but then the Sindh government approved postponement for another 90 days. 'Delay in the local bodies polls is a violation of Supreme Court's order,' he said, stressing that the elections should be held at the earliest in the light of top court's orders.

When asked, Joint Secretary Ramzan Malik told the ECP that the ministry could not provide civil armed forces for elections as the bulk of the security forces were still busy providing security in the flood-affected areas of Sindh. 'We are not in a position to fulfil the security needs of the local government elections,' the official said. 'The situation does not allow us to deploy civil armed forces at these elections.'

Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said the second phase of elections was postponed twice due to rain and flood, as 25pc to 30pc of 'Sindh is under water'. He said: 'It is not possible to provide security forces and administrative staff for the elections in Karachi. About 1,300 polling stations in Karachi are sensitive, and every station requires eight officials.'

'Are you not in a position to provide security?' CEC Raja questioned, reminding him that the ECP and CEC had the authority to announce a date for elections. Polls should be held within 120 days, he said, adding that the LG elections would also be held in Punjab.

Mr Wahab said the Sindh government that conducted the elections in the 'first phase with mutual understanding' did not want anyone to raise questions this time.

As the spokesperson admitted that the Sindh government approved postponement of the elections for 90 days, an ECP member asked how the Sindh cabinet could use the ECP's authority. Mr Wahab insisted it was Sindh government's authority 'as per law' to announce LG elections, adding that the provincial government would...

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