The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday postponed the local government elections scheduled for December 31 in Islamabad following a change in the union councils of the federal capital. A five-member bench had reserved the verdict earlier in the day after arguments were concluded in the case. During the hearing, former attorney general Ashtar Ausaf, who is representing the federal government in the case, told the bench that the union councils were increased in Islamabad based on the increase in population. At this, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja asked whether the census report had been published. Ausaf told the bench that the census bureau had informed about the increase in Islamabad’s population, adding that the ECP must look at the increase in population. “The Islamabad High Court (IHC) also recognised the increase in population but authorised the Election Commission to take the final decision after listening to the government’s point of view,” Ausaf told the bench. “In the past, even after the schedule was released, elections were postponed. The Election Commission has to decide according to the constitution and the law,” said Ausaf, adding that the ECP cannot deprive citizens of their fundamental rights. The lawyer also told the bench that the Parliament has passed the legislation increasing the number of union councils, adding that ECP must conduct delimitation in Islamabad in light of the new law. Meanwhile, a member of the ECP wondered why there was a sudden increase in the population in six months. The lawyer informed that the government reviewed NADRA’s data. However, CEC Raja said that the delimitation of constituencies was done for Islamabad twice. He also gave the example of Punjab where the exercise was done twice and is now being done for the third time. “Why did the government not realise at the right time to increase the UCs,” asked CEC Raja. He added that UCs were increased once the election schedule was issued, saying that the government has put the electoral body in a difficult situation. “If a mistake is made then the commission should provide assistance,” responded Ausaf. However, CEC Raja reminded the counsel that a mistake is made once not again and again. “In Article 148 of the Constitution, it is written that elections are to be conducted according to the local law. Now, if that law is changed, then what should be done? There should be legislation binding the authorities to hold elections held on time,” remarked CEC. He added that the ECP also faced resistance in provinces over the local government elections.