QUETTA - In compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, local government polls will be held in Balochistan on December 7, and preparations in this connection are in full swing.

Over 20,000 candidates from major political parties have filed their nomination papers for 7,189 seats of the metropolitan corporation, municipal corporations, district councils, municipal committees and union councils.

However, all leading parties are making hue and cry over the holding of LG polls on December 7 besides demanding their postponement, citing different reasons such as cold weather, incomplete delimitation, the deteriorating law and order and the earthquake.

Baloch nationalist parties, including National Party (NP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal and BNP-Awami are taking part in the LG elections, however, Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) which had boycotted the general elections of May 11 has announced to boycott the LG elections as well.

JWP says thousands of Bugti families are out of their home district and their names are not enlisted in voters’ lists, so in such circumstances elections cannot be transparent at all.

All the other parties which had participated in the last general elections are making preparations and campaigning to win maximum seats in the LG polls.

The parties, including NP, PML-N, Q-League, Awami National Party, JUI-Ideological, PML-N, PPP, PTI, Hazara Democratic Party and others are making preparations for the polls. On the other hand, they are also demanding postponement of the polls.

They are of the view that there is a serious issue of the deteriorating law and order situation in Baloch areas, the recent earthquake that hit Awaran and Kech districts and cold weather due to which a huge population has migrated to hotter areas of the province.

Besides, some political parties, including BNP-Mengal and HDP, have expressed their serious reservations over incomplete delimitations of some constituencies and flaws in voter lists.

They say addressing the issues of delimitation and removing flaws from voter lists is crucial for the credibility of the polls, demanding solution to these problems was a must before going for the polls.

These parties also complained that the time for campaigning is too short that would also affect the polls’ results. Though some parties have threatened to boycott the electoral process, it seems they would not do so.

The party-based LG elections will be held in Quetta, four municipal corporations and 54 municipal committees and district councils. Quetta is a metropolitan corporation while Khuzdar, Qilla Abdullah, Kech and Pishin have been given the status of municipal corporations.

The first phase of the electoral process came to an end as Saturday was the last day for filing nomination papers after the date was extended. Friday (November 8) had earlier been marked as the deadline for filing papers.

The deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner city, assistant commissioner sadder, additional commissioner (revenue) and the district education officer have been appointed as returning officers in Quetta.

Balochistan Election Commissioner Syed Sultan Bayazid said since they had little time for conducting LG polls, they were facing challenges. He said all other districts would remain district councils while the province would be divided into 7,078 general wards and each union council would comprise at least seven and maximum 15 wards. He said the electoral body expected that approximately 3.3 million people would use their right to vote.

It has been observed that despite issuance of strict code of conduct for the LG polls, many leaders in the provincial government are busy campaigning in their respective constituencies.

Political pundits anticipate low turnout in the Baloch-dominated areas owing to the deteriorating law and order situation. They also foresee many candidates will be elected unopposed from different areas, including Dera Bugti and Makran.

In order to maintain peace during the LG polls, the provincial government would also seek the services of Army and Frontier Corps.