ISLAMABAD  - Going ahead with the decision to hold the local government elections on the dates given by the provinces, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has finalised the schedule in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan.

Sindh has given its readiness for holding the local government elections on November 27 and Punjab and Balochistan on December 7.

The polls schedule would be put up for formal approval by Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jillani, after a final discussion between the ECP and the provinces at a top-level meeting today (Tuesday).

The progress on finalising the electoral schedule was made at an internal ECP meeting on Monday chaired by the acting CEC and attended by the members of the Election Commission as well as senior officials from the ECP Secretariat and the provinces up to the ranks of secretary, additional secretary, provincial election commissioners, director generals, additional director generals and directors.

Reportedly, the ECP decided to implement the Supreme Court’s instructions on the LG polls in letter and spirit and to hold the elections on the dates prescribed by the provinces. The commission would, however, formally suggest to the provinces to review their decision on the LG polls, as a last-ditch effort, to get sufficient time to make preparations. In case the provinces do not accept the electoral body’s request, the commission would go ahead with its decision to hold the polls on the prescribed dates, it is learnt.

The interior secretary, the PSCIR (Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) chairman, the Nadra (National Database and Registration Authority) chairman, the Population Census Organisation (PCO) secretary, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) director general, the Islamabad chief commissioner and the chief secretaries as well as the LG secretaries of all the four provinces are to show up at today’s meeting.

The SC on Friday ordered the electoral body to make arrangements for the conduct of LG polls on the dates given by the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan. In pursuance of the SC directive, the ECP held an emergency meeting the same day and decided to launch preparations for the LG elections, with the cancellation of weekly holidays of the entire electoral machinery across the country.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which has yet to pass the LG law is said to have unofficially communicated to the ECP to hold the LG elections on December 28.

According to the ECP sources, the commission requires at least two months to hold the LG polls. “The conduct of LG polls in haste without making proper preparations would be a messy affair that my lead to mismanagement and haphazard arrangements,” one of the top ECP officials told this correspondent last week.

“That is why the commission had earlier pointed out that the LG polls were not possible this year,” the official had referred to the ECP meeting on October 3, which followed an implied announcement from ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan in a related media briefing to hint that the conduct of LG polls this year was unlikely.

“We would try to convince the provinces to review the dates for LG polls, keeping in mind the extensive electoral preparations, but if they don’t agree, we’ll have no other option but to follow the SC orders. Keeping this in view, the weekly holidays of the entire ECP staff have been cancelled till the LG polls are held,” he had said.

Agencies add: For Sindh LG polls, nominations will be submitted on November 5. Objections to the nominations will be received on November 6 and scrutiny of the papers will be held on November 7-8. Election symbols for the LB polls in Sindh will be allotted on November 13 and results will be announced on December 3, sources said.

In Punjab and Balochistan, nominations will be received by November 8-10. Objections to nominations will be received by 11-12 November, while the scrutiny phase will be held on 13-15 November.

Appeals against rejection of nomination papers will be heard on 16-18 November while the papers can be withdrawn by November 22.