Sunday April 21, 2024

ECP secretary 'resigns from post citing health issues'

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan has not yet accepted Khan's resignation, say sources

By Nausheen Yousaf
January 07, 2024
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Omar Hamid Khan. — X/@OmarHamidKhan1
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Omar Hamid Khan. — X/@OmarHamidKhan1 

ISLAMABAD: Omar Hamid Khan stepped down from his post as the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) secretary over health issues, Geo News reported Sunday citing sources. 

According to the sources, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan has not yet accepted Khan's resignation as the electoral body's secretary.

The development comes just a few weeks before the general elections scheduled to take place on February 8 amid allegations of lack of level playing field by key political players including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Earlier today, ECP Special Secretary Dr Syed Asif Hussain rejected the PTI's allegation that it was not being provided a level playing field to partake in election-related activities

In a written response submitted to the Supreme Court on PTI's plea seeking contempt proceedings against the electoral body, the ECP asked the apex court to “dismiss the contempt petition with a cost”.

The PTI's petition sought contempt of court proceedings against the ECP secretary, inspector generals of police (IGPs), chief secretaries of the four provinces and secretary of interior ministry for "non-compliance" with the SC order passed on December 22, 2023.

ECP puts rumours on secy's resignation to rest

With rumour mills continuously churning to create doubts regarding the timely conduct of February 8 polls, the election commission issued a clarification for the sudden development.

“ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan is an intelligent and hardworking officer, who is performing his duties with diligence. He is currently on medical rest due to some health issues. He will return to his duties immediately after his health recovery,” the ECP spokesperson said in a statement issued soon after the secretary's resignation.

“Special Secretary [Dr Syed Asif Hussain] is fulfilling [election-related] tasks in the absence of the secretary,” he added.

Addressing queries regarding forthcoming general elections, the commission clarified once again that the top electoral body was fully functional and facing no hurdles in performing its tasks.

It added that all ECP offices were functional even in the holidays ahead of the general polls.

Meanwhile, caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi also refuted rumours surrounding the alleged resignation of the commission’s secretary.

He said in a statement that people must avoid paying attention to the rumours.“Khan is currently ill and we pray for his early health recovery," he added.

The minister further clarified that the top electoral body was not facing any kind of crisis and fully functional to complete preparations for the forthcoming February 8 polls.

Who is Omar Hamid Khan?

Khan, who is a retired grade 22 officer of the Secretariat Group, assumed his responsibilities as the ECP secretary in July 2021 on a contractual basis.

Earlier, he also served as the special secretary of finance, secretary Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) and national food security among other responsibilities.

Meanwhile, he also served as the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry.

Last year in July, CEC Raja extended the of the ECP secretary for one year.

The ECP secretary has over 30 years of experience in socio-economic analysis both on international and domestic issues

Khan completed his Bachelor of Science in 1982 from Government College Lahore. Later, he completed his Master of Science in Zoology in 1986 from the University of Punjab.