ISLAMABAD - Barely had row between the poll authority and the Sindh government settled down before the electoral body appears to have locked horns with the federal government, with the rejection of interior minister’s latest statement on NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority).
“We have the documentary evidence supported by a letter from the interior minister that clearly states that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was the one who had requested the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take NADRA under its administrative control for three months,” Additional Secretary ECP Syed Sher Afgan told media men shortly after the interior minister had denied making any such request to the ECP.
Earlier, Nisar Ali Khan had said in the National Assembly that he never floated any such proposal as putting NADRA under the ECP’s administrative control. “It can be checked through my media briefing and public statements that I only suggested to the ECP to have an oversight of the NADRA’s operational side related to thumb impression verification for three months. I never said NADRA be put under ECP administrative control,” Khan had said.
However, this did not please the additional secretary ECP who told a different story altogether. He said the interior minister’s letter containing the request to place NADRA under ECP’s administrative purview was very much with the election commission and the poll authority was reviewing it.  “We are looking into the matter and we haven’t responded to the interior minister so far,” Sher Afgan said.
He also rejected the Parliament’s criticism on the ECP for its failure to effectively utilise the ‘foolproof’ features of magnetic ink in the general elections that led to the surfacing of hundreds of thousands of fake and unverified votes. “Parliament’s criticism is baseless and unjustified. We had got 433,000 stamp pads of magnetic ink prepared by the PCSIR (Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) and we had verified the standard of this ink from NADRA before having the magnetic ink used in the polls. It’s extremely unbecoming of Parliament to solely target ECP now,” the additional secretary said adding that special ink (not magnetic ink) would be used in the LG polls.
He said that Imran Khan’s request to introduce biometric verification system in local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was reviewed by the ECP and it was decided that the biometric system would be used on trial basis in the four constituencies in the coming days. “If it succeeds, the system would be used in the LG polls in KP.” Sher Afgan also confirmed having received another request from Imran Khan for holding the LG polls in KP under judiciary’s supervision. “The matter is under consideration.” 
Meanwhile, the ECP management on Wednesday met, with Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk under the chair, and issued the LG polls schedule for Sindh. It also put in place the Code of Conduct for LG polls to be followed during respective LG elections in the provinces, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and cantonment boards (CBs).
The Sindh’s LG polls schedule is as follows: Notice inviting nomination papers: 24 December. Nomination papers receiving: 26 to 29 December. Publication of notice of all the nomination papers received: 30 December. Objection to the nomination papers: 31 December. Scrutiny of nomination papers and publication of names of validly nominated candidates: 1 to 5 January.  Appeals against acceptance/rejection of nomination papers: 6 to 7 January. Disposal of appeals: 8 to 11 January. Withdrawal of candidature: January 12.
 Publication of list of contesting candidates with symbols allotted: January 13. Polling day: January 18 and declaration of results: January 21.  The ECP has appointed 29 district returning officers (DROs) and 237 returning officers (ROs) for Sindh LG polls.