LAHORE - PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while rejecting the delimitation process, has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure the conduct of local body polls in a free and transparent manner.

He made this appeal to the ECP while addressing a press conference at the party office on Wednesday along with PTI Punjab President Ijaz Chaudhary.

Qureshi said the ECP should be more vigilant to check pre-poll rigging practices, including the delimitation process, in a bid to hold the local body elections in a transparent manner.  He warned PTI would not remain a silent spectator if ECP failed to discharge its constitutional duties to ensure transparent and free local elections. He claimed PTI had accepted the ECP role in the general elections only for the sake of democracy. The PTI vice chairman said, “We don’t accept the delimitation process as new demarcations are being made by the civil administrations in Punjab and Sindh on the demand of the ruling parties’ parliamentarians.”

Quershi said local bodies were a third tier of democracy, so PTI wanted fair elections while PPP and PML-N wanted selection. He quoted the ECP secretary as saying: “I had advised the Punjab government to amend the local government law to empower judiciary to hear complaints against delimitations, but they turned a deaf ear to my advice.”

He claimed the proposed dates of December 7 and November 27 for the elections in Punjab and Sindh, respectively, were unrealistic as delimitations could not be completed within the given period. He added the whole process was a ridiculous exercise of making petitions against delimitation on such a short notice that most of the parties would not be able to contest the genuine case, which would ultimately be beneficial for the government.  Qureshi said Printing Press of Pakistan had expressed its inability to print 50 million ballot papers within the short time while the government was considering their printing from private firms, which PTI would not accept at any cost because it would facilitate rigging.

He said PTI would stage protest demonstrations against price hike, inflation and other issues across the Punjab on Friday (tomorrow) while major shows would be organized in Lahore and Multan.