ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will approach the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) over some recent incidents affecting the fairness of the upcoming elections, including a military officer’s direction to ROs and DROs for a conference meeting on elections in Kasur and the reported harassment and thrashing of PML-N candidates in Multan and Narowal.
The arrest of candidates during the election campaign will also be discussed with the Bureau. Informed sources said that the ECP has already taken up with the GHQ the issue of a serving major’s direction to ROs and DROs to attend a conference on Election 2018 in a military camp in Kasur. In return, it is said, the GHQ conveyed to the commission that it was a mistake on the part of the major.
The ECP raised the issue with the GHQ after it got a formal complaint from the LHC narrating how an acting commanding officer in Kasur issued “derogatory direction” to DROs and ROs to attend a conference at Abdul Majeed Axe Camp, Kasur, regarding General Elections 2018.
The LHC had formally approached the ECP with a complaint it had received from District and Sessions Judge, Kasur, against a letter from an acting commanding officer, Abdul Majeed Axe Camp, Kasur, for a conference at the camp regarding the general elections 2018.
The LHC told the ECP that the Constitution stipulates independence of judiciary in an explicit and discernible manner, therefore, “the derogatory direction issued to DROs & ROs by above mentioned acting commanding officer to attend the conference at Abdul Majeed Axe Camp Kasur regarding General Elections 2018” cannot be allowed by the law and the Constitution.
Following the LHC letter, the ECP took up the matter with the GHQ, which admitted that the said move by the acting commanding officer of a military camp in Kasur was a mistake.
Meanwhile, the ECP has also taken notice of the NAB’srecent actions, particularly the arrest of the PML-N candidate from Rawalpindi. Sources said that the ECP will formally take up the matter with the NAB chairman in order to ensure that Bureau’s actions do not fall in the category of pre-polls rigging.
The sources said that the commission may pass an order in relation to the recent arrest of the PML-N candidate from Rawalpindi Engineer Raja Qamarul Islam.
The Bureau recently arrested Qamarul Islam within a fortnight of the NAB’s own clearance given to the same candidate to contest the polls. The NAB chairman’s statements and some other actions of the Bureau are also seen as moves influencing the elections against a particular political party.
On Sunday, the ECP, while referring to the cases of harassment of PML-N candidates in Multan and Narowal, issued fresh directions to the provincial government to check such incidents and directed the provinces to “take the bull by the horns”.
In a letter issued to all the provinces, the ECP, while referring to its earlier direction to the provinces on law and order situation and about protection of political leaders and contesting candidates, lamented, “It appears, unfortunately, that the authorities concerned have yet to take the bull by the horns. There have been media reports that candidates have been harassed and physically threatened at various places. Incidents like the ones at Narowal and Multan require immediate corrective measures.”
The provincial chief secretaries and inspector generals of police were also told that without favourable law and order environment, the object of holding elections honestly, justly and fairly could not be achieved. The provincial authorities were directed that the police and administration should not rest “on their oars till the task of a fair and free election is achieved”.
Meanwhile, the ECP Secretary, Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, said that the printing of ballot papers has begun at the three printing presses, as per the amended Election Commission schedule, under the army supervision. The army had already been deployed to printing facilities in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad by June 25.
Printing of each ballot paper will cost around Rs10. There are over 210 million ballot papers being printed, making it the most expensive ballot paper printing process in the country's history with a total estimated cost of over Rs2.1 billion.