ECP says LG polls in Karachi, Hyderabad to go ahead per schedule.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday said the local government (LG) elections in Karachi and Hyderabad would be held on Jan 15 (tomorrow) as per schedule, rejecting the demand of the Sindh government to postpone it over security threats to political leaders.

An official handout signed by the ECP spokesperson stated the ECP's decision while directing the Sindh government to ensure 'foolproof preparations for peaceful elections'.

Earlier in the morning, the Sindh government reiterated its request to the ECP, seeking a delay in the scheduled elections in Karachi and Hyderabad over 'threats to various political leaders and workers of political parties' as warned by law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Following the ECP's direction to hold the polls tomorrow, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah expressed his concern over the 'worrying situation' resulting from the differences between the political parties over the elections.

He remarked that two political parties were in the favour of holding them tomorrow while two were not, adding that 'a few miscreants could benefit from the [current] situation' and lead to a deterioration in the law and order situation.

Sanaullah said a minor incident could result in a 'major accident in Karachi and Hyderabad.' He suggested that 'political parties and other stakeholders related to the elections needed to 'defuse [the tension in] the atmosphere by showing diplomacy'.

The minister asked the ECP and the judiciary to take notice of the current situation's seriousness and to 'find an appropriate solution in the light of the Constitution and the law.'

To be held, or not to be

On Friday, the provincial government had announced that the long-awaited local body elections would not be held and the notification to hold the polls based on the existing delimitation had also been withdrawn on the demand of their 'coalition partner', the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P).

However, later in the day, the ECP rejected the Sindh government's request and ruled that the polls - which have been twice delayed - would be held on Jan 15 as scheduled.

The situation took an ugly turn when Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, soon after the ECP's announcement, contended that the electoral body could not reject the provincial government's decision to postpone local government elections in the two cities.

Today, in a fresh letter to the provincial election commissioner - a copy of which is available with...

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