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17pc local government seats for capital women remain uncontested

ISLAMABAD: About 17 per cent of seats reserved for women nominees in the Islamabad local government elections have remained uncontested, as none of the political parties were able to field candidates on these seats, according to a report.

Pattan said in its analysis that 99 of the total 101 Forms (VII) of the contesting candidates disclosed that there were no women candidates for at least 17 per cent of the total seats. If polls are held on schedule on Dec 31, then at least one-fifth of the reserved seats will remain vacant.

“It could be attributed to the failure of political parties, women groups, and civil society,” the report said, adding that as many as 434 women were contesting elections on 202 seats reserved for them i.e. two each in all union councils. As opposed to 17 per cent, in the 2005 LG elections, less than 1 per cent of women’s seats had remained vacant.

The report said that out of 434 women nominees, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) fielded the highest number (32 per cent) of candidates followed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) 25 per cent share. PPP nominated 11 candidates, it added.

PTI fields more candidates than PPP, PML-N and JUI-F combined

About seats reserved for minorities, it said the PTI and PML-N fielded the same number of nominees whereas the Jamaat-i-Islami and PPP nominated 12 and six candidates, respectively. Overall, 55 (56%) reserved seats for minorities have remained vacant.

According to nomination forms submitted for chairmen and vice chairmen slots, PML-N, PPP, and JUI-F had the largest share (27%) of candidates, followed by independent candidates (25%), and PTI at 24%. However, overall PTI fielded the most candidates as out of 3,472 candidates, PTI fielded 1,019 while PML-N nominated 845 candidates.

Similarly, there appears a strong relationship between power and contestation rate. For instance, the seat-to-candidate ratio for chairmen and vice chairmen appears to be 1 to 4, while for the seats of peasant/worker and youth, it was 2.98, and 2.94 respectively. Overall, for all the categories of seats, the seat-to-candidate ratio was as low as 2.70. According to Pattan, as many as 85% of the candidates contesting elections on seats reserved for workers and peasants were neither workers nor peasants.

The report said PTI apparently had “deeper roots in rural as well as urban union councils of Islamabad” as the party has fielded more candidates than the combined candidates of PPP, PML-N, and JUI-F.

Perhaps due to prevailing political uncertainty, electioneering appeared to be lacklustre in most of the union councils. About the recent amendments to the Local Government Act 2015, it observed these changes have further alienated the candidates from the election campaign. Most candidates appeared to be extremely resentful of the last-minute changes to the local government law by the ruling coalition. In their view, “it had cost a huge loss to their finances and precious time”.

The report urged the political parties to establish party chapters at the local level. It also said women groups, labor movement, and civil society should play their due role to make sure marginalized social classes could contest elections and protect their representation and power.

“Quality of candidates ensures the quality of elections and that leads to good governance. To achieve this goal, the Election Commission needs to improve its capacities to assess and scrutinize nomination papers rigorously,” it said.

It said holding local elections on regular basis in all situations must be made mandatory and added that effective and powerful local government was a prerequisite to making communities resilient to disasters.

Source: Dawn, The News