According to the latest unofficial results available Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz’s (PMLN) candidates have been elected chairmen in 19 Union Councils (UCs) in the recently concluded local government elections in Islamabad and have a two seat advantage against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), as 17 PTI candidates have been elected chairmen.
Apart from the controversial delimitation in the federal capital, appointment of Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry as the state minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) and the subsequent step of shifting the Capital Development Authority (CDA) under the administrative control of CADD, various other measures were taken that have raised questions regarding the ability of Election Commission to implement its own rules and regulations.
How the Government quietly introduced changes to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Local Government Act 2015 through an ordinance days before the local government elections is another unanswered question. The ordinance approved by the President was notified on October 15 but was controversially kept under wraps till a few days before elections. Under the new ordinance the number of reserved seats for women in the metropolitan corporation was reduced from 16 to nine. On the other hand the number of deputy mayors was increased from a solitary one to three. Further under the new ordinance all the 650 elected members will be eligible to become mayor.
The sweeping changes under the new ordinance were deliberately kept hidden from other political parties till a few days before the election so they could not be challenged in time. Not announcing a holiday in the capital on Election Day was also widely criticized as it resulted in a lower voter turn out. ECP’s silence in this regard is meaningful to say the least.
The unchecked violation of ECP’s code of conduct gives credence to the PTI’s rigging mantra.