The Supreme Court on Friday issued an order regarding the schedule of local government (LG) elections in Islamabad, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the cantonment boards. As per the order, LG polls will be held on April 25 in the 43 cantonment boards and on May 30 in KP. LG polls have not been conducted in cantonment boards since 1998 in clear violation of the law. As far as the provinces are concerned, only Balochistan has fulfilled its constitutional obligation whereas KP, Sindh and Punjab are yet to undertake the exercise, which is necessary for the devolution of power and critical for the functioning of a democratic system. Once again, the judiciary has had to intervene to compel the reluctant executive to act.

The PTI-led KP government is now aware of its limitations with regards to employing the highly-publicised biometric system for the elections. For now, it will have to settle for what is doable. In Sindh, it is the same old story of the PPP and the MQM quarreling over resources and control. The PPP remains unwilling to hold polls because it knows that the MQM will win in Karachi. While the PPP is inexcusably inept when it comes to running the affairs of the metropolis or the rest of the province, it finds it significantly easier to see people suffer than share power. In Punjab, 'Khadim-e-Ala' Shahbaz Sharif is as territorial as ever, and no one in the party wants to get bitten by asking him to listen to someone else’s conscience in the absence of his own. The most populated province in the country cannot be run without an effective LG system.

During one of the hearings, the SC said that it was exercising restraint by refraining from issuing a contempt notice to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for failing to comply with court orders related to LG polls. This isn’t a test of the justices’ patience. It is a matter of non-compliance with court orders and deliberate evasion of constitutional duties. The PM is either following court orders or he isn’t. The SC must not hesitate from issuing a contempt notice to Nawaz Sharif since nothing else seems to be working.