LAHORE - Hypocrisy, it seems, is at its peak in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The leaders, barring some exceptions, are double-faced. They say one thing and do the other, giving little importance to the views of the voters or the reputation of the country at the global level.

The see-saw of the local government elections explains the situation. The provincial governments and the Election Commission of Pakistan claim that they are very serious in holding these elections, but they are actually more earnestly trying to have them postponed for a few months.

And since nobody will like to take the responsibility for further delaying the already long overdue process, the governments and the ECP want to get an order in this regard from the Supreme Court. It is for this reason that the apex court is being approached again and again with the plea that LG polls cannot be held on the scheduled dates.

The National Assembly and the Senate have also been ‘pressganged’ to mount pressure both on the ECP and the judiciary.

But the Supreme Court, whose Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, is due to retire next month after a long judicial career, wants the constitution upheld at all costs, no matter what constraints being cited by the government or the ECP.

As things stand, the ECP has become a sandwich between the parliament and the Supreme Court.

The apex court has directed the Election Commission to hold the elections. But the parliament has adopted resolutions seeking adjournment of the electoral process for the time being.

To make it clear to the poll body that the ruling party and the opposition are serious in getting their resolutions implemented, copies of the resolutions have been forwarded to the ECP.

At present, the Election Commission of Pakistan is being headed by the senior most judge of the Supreme Court, who is supposed to replace the chief justice of Pakistan next month.

So, in practical terms it’s between the CJP and the would-be CJP.

And decisions being taken by the ECP these days might come under review by Justice Tasaddaq Hussain Jilani when he wears the mantle of the CJP.

The ECP and the provincial governments have been consistently saying they will hold free and transparent local government elections. They even proposed dates for the polls. The Punjab and Balochistan governments said they would hold these elections on December 7. The Sindh government proposed November 27. The KPK government is yet to make necessary arrangements for the exercise.

But now that the elections are due, they are citing various difficulties to adhere to the schedule. Even the ECP says the printing of 500 million ballot papers will require four months, because of which the dates proposed by the provinces need a review. In case the private presses are involved in the printing of ballot papers, the transparency of the process would become questionable.

The PCSIR, which is supposed to provide ink pads, says it doesn’t have the capacity to meet the deadline.

The finance ministry which first said it would release funds is now reported to have expressed its inability for a few months. And if there are no funds, no elections can be held.

The ECP moved the Supreme Court to have the polls postponed for the time being. However, the request has been turned down. Now the ECP has decided to file a review petition, which is expected to be taken up on Wednesday (today).

The Punjab government excels in hypocrisy. In power for the past five years, it has consistently been saying it will hold the local elections on time. It was in favour of party-less polls to be able to buy the winners from other parties. (The party did not have even a simple majority in the previous assembly and it completed its 2008-13 term with the backing of a forward bloc of the PML-Q legislators).

But the Lahore High Court struck down the relevant provision of the enactment as unconstitutional, making it obligatory for the government to hold party-based elections.

In the meantime, the process for filing of nomination started. Of course, the papers had been prepared for party-less elections. On Tuesday, it came to light that these papers are not valid for party-based elections. And as it is a race against time, the candidates were allowed to mention their political affiliation in the same papers in their handwriting.

The date for filing the papers has been extended.

The controversy about the delimitations and voter lists is there, in the presence of which it is hard to say whether the local polls in Punjab will be fair. The fact that the civil administration will supervise these polls will also provide the opponents with an opportunity to raise objections about their fairness. The role of the Sindh government is no less hypocritical.

It moved the Supreme Court to have the elections rescheduled from Nov 27 to December 7, the date set for Punjab and Balochistan. The court referred the matter to the ECP. But on Tuesday, the Sindh government decided to approach the apex court afresh with the request to delay the polls for 90 days. Simultaneously, the government requested the Election Commission to extend the date of filing the nomination papers to November 17.

The Balochistan government will hold the elections on schedule on December 7, provided there is no court order to the contrary.

Filing of nomination papers in the province has been completed.

But the KPK government will follow the direction of the PTI leadership, which has already supported the delay by backing the National Assembly resolutions on the subject.