LG polls in 32 Balochistan districts today

Oonib Azam
Sunday, May 29, 2022

KARACHI: The local government elections in Balochistan will be held on Sunday (today) in 32 districts, except Quetta and Lasbella, under the controversial Balochistan Local Government Act 2010.

Speaking to The News on Saturday, Balochistan Additional Attorney General Shai Haq Baloch said if the local government elections were held under the Act, it would be a contempt of court. The incumbent CM and his cabinet, he said, were supposed to approve an amended draft and get it passed by the assembly before the elections, as per the directives of the Balochistan High Court.

Baloch said there were 102 wards of the province where elections would not be held due to court cases regarding delimitations. In 108 wards, there were no contestants. There were certain wards having only two voters due to which the provincial election commissioner had to call off polls in those wards.

For 4,445 seats, there are 16,619 contestants. As many as 1,584 contestants have already been elected unopposed. According to the data released by the Provincial Election Commission, the number of voters in the province is more than 3.5 million. The number of election staff would be 34,890, while 40,000 security personnel would be deployed on the election day.

There are seven municipal corporations of urban areas under which there will be 914 wards. There’s only one metropolitan corporation in Balochistan Metropolitan Corporation Quetta, while the other cities of the province have municipal corporations. However, elections are not being held in Quetta.

The number of union councils in rural areas is 838, under which there are 5,345 wards. The total number of wards is 6,259, out of which elections will be held in 4,456 wards. The number of voters in 32 districts is 3,552,938, out of which female voters are 1,546,124, whereas male voters are 2,006,274. The number of polling stations for men is 576 and women 562. The number of combined polling stations is 4,088. High risk polling stations are 2,034, while sensitive polling stations are 1,974.

There are 5,226 presiding officers and the number of assistant presiding officers is 12,219. The number of nomination papers filed in urban wards is 5,939, while in rural wards 19,802.

The local government polls, according to Baloch, can be extremely problematic for a number of reasons as the existing local government act seems to be pretty much against Article 140-A of the Constitution. It talks about devolution of financial, administrative and political powers to local governments in the province.

Local government departments such as Water and Sanitation Agency are under the provincial government and have their own managing directors. The Communication and Works Department and the Urban Planning Department are also under the provincial government and are responsible for the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure. They are independent of any elected local council.

As per the provincial local government act, the budget passed by an elected local council has to be approved by the commissioner of the district or the city. There’s no mention of the Provincial Finance Commission in the Act.

There’s an amount after tax collection that the federal government issues to the provinces and the provinces are supposed to disburse that amount to district and local governments through the PFC.

The elected local councils receive funds from the provincial government in the form of grant and aid. Since the area of Balochistan is huge in terms of land and its population is scattered, the province’s share under the NFC was supposed to increase yearly.