ISLAMABAD - Amid stalled progress on conduct of local government elections, the electoral authorities are scheduled to meet the top federal and provincial government representatives today (Thursday) to take up the matter.

The meeting, described by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as an ‘all important’ event, is to review progress made by the provincial governments for the conduct of LG elections in all the four provinces and the federal capital. It is to be chaired by Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani.

Reportedly, the acting CEC would inquire from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government representatives in today’s meeting as to why the provincial government had so far failed to pass the LG bill while it had earlier claimed to hold the LG polls by September 15 this year, a deadline set earlier by the Supreme Court.

Apart from the KPK government, which had apparently created much hype on conducting the LG polls on priority basis for the delegation of power at the grassroots level to ensure effective public representation in politics, all the other three provinces, Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, have passed the respective LG polls and are in the process of delimiting the electoral constituencies for the LG polls. The KPK is the only province that is yet to legislate on LG laws while the three provinces had passed the LG laws in August this year.

“What to talk about the LG polls in KP when the provincial government is yet to pass the related bill,” a top ECP official, requesting anonymity, commented. “It’s such an irony that the province which made the loudest claims on strengthening the local bodies structure now stands shy of legislation in this regard.”

The ECP meeting is being held a day after the Supreme Court shared its categorical annoyance over the delay in holding the LG polls on part of the provinces. The court took on the apparent slackness shown by the KP government on this count.

During the hearing of a related case on Wednesday, the respective advocate generals from the provinces had assured the SC the LG polls would be held by this year. The Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh representatives had informed the apex court the respective provincial governments had passed the LG bills and were conducting the constituencies’ delimitation that would be completed by November for holding the LG elections in the ongoing year. The KPK government informed the court it did not pass the LG bill that would be passed ‘soon.’ This earned the court’s annoyance, which asked the provinces to update the court on LG polls progress in the next hearing on October 7.

Last month, the KPK LG Minister Inayatullah Khan had informed the provincial assembly the KP government would soon introduce the LG bill seeking its passage from the provincial assembly in order to hold the local bodies elections. However, till date, the bill has not been taken up for legislation.

When approached on Wednesday, the minister reiterated again that the bill would be presented ‘very soon.’ “We realise there’s been a delay on our part and all other provinces have done the required legislation. There’re some legal hitches because the LG model we are going to present would be exemplary and unmatched. So, if there’s a slight delay, it should be understandable. In any case, the LG polls would be conducted this year, you have my word,” he told this correspondent.

Asked whether he would show up for the ECP meeting, the minister said, “I haven’t been invited. Our chief secretary and LG secretary have been asked to attend the meeting and they would.”

Issued on September 24, 2013, a statement from the ECP said, an ‘all important’ meeting on October 3 would discuss; latest status with regard to enactment of LG laws, possibility of conducting party-based and non-party based polls, delimitation of constituencies, uniformity of LG laws, electoral rolls for LG elections, issuance of elections schedule, provision of security and finalising related arrangements for the local bodies elections.

Secretary Interior Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Chief Secretary Punjab Javed Aslam, Chief Secretary Sindh Ejaz Chaudhry, Chief Secretary KPK Shehzad Arbab Chief Secretary Balochistan Babar Yaqoob, Chairman NADRA (National Database Registration Authority) Tariq Malik as well as the secretaries local governments from all the four provinces are scheduled to show up at the meeting.