Islamabad - The federal government has not declared local holiday on the occasion of the first-ever Local Government elections in the capital being held today.

Rather, they decided that all the government departments located in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) would remain open till 2:00pm on Monday. A notification issued by the Ministry of Interior on November 29, a day before the elections, said: “It is notified that all government departments, including federal ministries located in Islamabad Capital Territory shall be closed at 2:00pm on Monday, the November 30, 2015, to enable the employees to cast their votes in ICT local body elections.”

Earlier, on November 25, the District Magistrate Islamabad, through a notification had said: “In pursuance of the instructions of Ministry of Interior, it is hereby notified that there shall be local holiday in all the educational institutions on Local Government elections, 2015 i.e. November 30, 2015. However, the offices/departments of ICT administration, federal government, provincial government and of equivalent level and all other offices will remain open and functional as usual.” 

The government seemed confused on whether to declare holiday on the polling day. Interestingly, later on Sunday, the Interior Ministry modified the earlier issued notification to state that the government employees may cast their vote before 2pm but with the permission of the head of the department. “In further partial modification of Ministry of Interior notification dated November 29, 2015, it is notified that the employees may also cast their vote before, with permission of head of departments,” the notification read.

The Sunday’s decision to close the government offices in Islamabad at 2pm on the polling day comes even after criticism from the opposition parties, particularly PTI that why the government has not declared local holiday on the occasion of the elections.

The decision on the part of the government is a reflection of no-confidence against the government employees. “The government is fearing that the employees would vote against the ruling party… otherwise there is no justification for the decision to open offices on the polling day,” a government employee at the Ministry of Interior said on condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, the polling stations may witness rush of the voters once the offices are closed at 2:00pm. Usually the voters turn out at the polling stations after noon and the influx of the government employees in the evening may cause problems for the polling staff. Polling would continue until 5:30pm.