LAHORE -  The Election Commission of Pakistan has extended the date for filing nominations for local bodies elections in Punjab and Sindh provinces to Wednesday (today).

In a notification released Tuesday, the commission announced the date had been extended, on requests of Punjab and Sindh, considering the problems being faced by candidates in filing nominations.

Nevertheless, election candidates in Punjab will have to add handwritten details of party affiliation as the nomination forms do not have the column for this purpose. The forms had been printed before Lahore High Court’s decision for party-based elections.  According to Punjab Election Commissioner Mehboob Ahmed, the commission is bound to issue these forms since it has not received any guidelines from the provincial government.

“There is no illegality in issuing the forms without the column. It is no big deal,” Ahmed said while talking to The Nation.

The commission, he said, would follow the apex court orders about the conduct of elections and that Punjab would go to polls on December 7, as announced by the provincial government.  Also, the commission notification directed all the returning officers in Punjab and Sindh to perform their normal activities already mentioned in the election schedule ie issuance of notice of nominations received and receiving of objections on nominations so notified. The returning officers will paste the additional list of nominations received on November 13, 2013 on the notice-board and will receive objections against the additional list of nominations till 10:00 p.m. According to the notification, about 80 per cent election candidates filed their nomination papers to 34 returning officers for 271 union councils of Lahore.

LG POLLS ON DEC 7 IMPOSSIBLE: SANA

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that the holding of Local Government elections is not possible on December 7 on account of incomplete preparations.

Talking to media here on Tuesday, the minister said that the Supreme Court might have awarded one or two weeks extension as far holding of LG polls in Punjab is concerned but the Election Commission sought four-month time which was refused.  He cited the Sindh that was allowed 10-day extension in this regard. He said LG elections would be held on party basis and there are certain changes required to be made in the nomination papers. He said the Punjab government, in honour of the Lahore High Court decision, took every possible step for holding the LB polls. He said the existing nomination papers are not correct as far as the court direction to hold LB polls on party basis is concerned. Therefore, new nomination papers should be printed, he said adding the correction of nomination papers falls in the domain of the Election Commission.

To a question regarding delimitation of constituencies, the provincial law minister spurned the objections raised by the opposition political parties, and said the PTI has developed the knack of making hue and cry over everything. 

To another question, Sanaullah said all necessary amendments have been made in the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 in connection with holding elections on party basis. He said the law has also been amended to the effect of obtaining an oath from the Muslim candidates that Muhammad (PBUH) is the last Prophet of God.

19 CANDIDATES ELECTED UNOPPOSED

Online adds: Nineteen candidates for local bodies elections have been elected unopposed from Nasirabad constituencies, despite demands by major political parties to postpone the local government elections in Balochistan.  “Nineteen candidates have been elected unopposed in different union councils of the district after no other candidate filed nominations against them,” an official was quoted as having said by the state-run news agency.

They said the union councils from where these candidates were elected unopposed included Shah Pur, Chhattar, Dolat Ghari, Shori Darbi, Nabi Bakhsh, Fleechi and others. For 7,189 seats of the metropolitan corporation, municipal corporations, district councils, municipal committees and union councils of Balochistan, over 20,000 prospective candidates had filed their nomination papers, the deadline for which ended Sunday.

Major political groups demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan last week to take notice of ‘bogus electoral lists’ and review electoral delimitations according to law for local government elections in Balochistan. They however said that despite all reservations, they would not boycott polls scheduled for December 7.