The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday rejected the plea of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and ruled that the local bodies elections in Karachi and Hyderabad will be held as scheduled on January 15.

The MQM-P had challenged the decision of the ECP for the prospective use of two separate electoral rolls in the local government polls simultaneously.

A three-member bench of the electoral body, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, reserved the verdict on Friday.

The Jamaat-e-Islami had also approached the ECP seeking the holding of polls according to the schedule,  postponed multiple times for one reason or another.

Announcing the verdict, the ECP directed the authorities to ensure that elections are held on time. 

During the last hearing, the chief election commissioner told the MQM-P lawyer that he has gone to various forums, however, the issue of electoral rolls was never raised before.

He told the lawyer to raise any other issue so that they can be clubbed.

The CEC further remarked that the lawyer is giving a wrong statement regarding the dual electoral rolls, rejecting his statement.

“You think you can get the elections postponed again? Your arguments are irrelevant so far,” he noted.

CEC Raja also stressed that the local government elections in Karachi will not be delayed, saying that it’s the Election Commission of Pakistan’s job to conduct the polls.

ARMY’S HELP SOUGHT: As the second phase of local bodies polls in Karachi and Hyderabad is set to happen on January 15, the ECP has written a letter today to the interior secretary, requesting the deployment of army and rangers at “sensitive polling stations” across Sindh.

Keeping in view of the law and order situation at sensitive polling stations, said the letter, army and rangers personnel must be deployed there to prevent any untoward incident.

The ECP, in its letter, has also sought fool-proof security arrangements for the polling staff, transportation of ballot papers from returning officers office to polling stations and back, and unrigged vote counting after the polling ends.

THE POLLS: The ECP had scheduled the second phase of local government polls in Sindh on July 24, 2022, but then it postponed them because of torrential rains and subsequent floods in the province.

The electoral body rescheduled the LG elections for August 28, but they were put off again for the same reason.

On October 18, the ECP rescheduled the elections for October 23, but the provincial government sought their postponement for three months. It said it had deployed police in the flood-hit areas due to which it was unable to provide the required level of security to polling stations.

After repeated delays, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami moved the Sindh High Court, which on November 15 instructed the ECP to announce the date for the LG elections within 15 days.

On November 22, the ECP announced January 15 as the new date.

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