Summary for LG polls in cantonments submitted
ISLAMABAD, Dec 17: The defence ministry has submitted a summary to the prime minister for holding local government (LG) elections in cantonment areas after a gap of 14 years.
“A summary has been moved and after approval of the prime minister, it will be forwarded to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding elections in cantonment areas,” Commander Shahbaz Hussain, Director (Legal), Ministry of Defence, informed the Supreme Court on Monday.
He said rules had been framed under the Local Government Ordinance, 2002, for introducing the LG system in cantonment areas.
“Under these rules, the defence ministry cannot address the Election Commission directly. It has to submit a summary through the federal government, which recommends to the commission for holding LG elections in the cantonment areas,” he said.
Mr Shahbaz told the court that the current set-up in cantonment boards had been extended till May 5 next year.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Shaikh Azmat Saeed had taken up a petition filed in 2009 by Rab Nawaz of Quetta, challenging the absence of local governments in different cantonment boards.
He had also urged the court to seek an explanation for violation of the Constitution by not holding LB elections in cantonment areas for the past 14 years.
The court noted with concern that the last such election was held in Oct 1998.
The chief justice observed that under Article 148, holding of elections was a duty of the ECP.
The Supreme Court directed Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Dil Mohammad Alizai and the director (legal) of the defence ministry to come on Tuesday with a record of elections in cantonment boards and apprise it of the stance of the ministry.
The DAG assured the court that the government was ready to hold local bodies elections the moment the Election Commission came up with a date.
Shafqat Jalil, the prime minister’s press Secretary, refused to confirm that a summary had been received by the prime minister for holding LG elections in cantonment areas.
CIVILIAN-MILITARY GULF: Shaikh Inayat, a former vice president of the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board, told Dawn that a gulf had been created between civilians and military authorities by not holding LG elections in the cantonment areas.
He said there were 53 cantonment areas in the country. Thirteen of them, eg Mangla, Pano Aqil, Loralai, were called small cantonment areas.
During the regime of Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the control of military authorities over cantonment areas had grown and since then the station commander (head of a cantonment board) directly reports to the corps commander of the area. Earlier, he was answerable to the LOG Area, a military department which deals with logistics.