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Pakistan

Web Desk
January 21, 2020

Profile: Sikandar Sultan Raja, the new Chief Election Commissioner

Pakistan

Web Desk
Tue, Jan 21, 2020
Sikandar Sultan Raja: File photo

A parliamentary panel agreed on Tuesday to ex-bureaucrat Sikandar Sultan Raja as the new Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

After months of deadlock between the government and the opposition on the new CEC’s appointment, the panel unanimously agreed to appoint Raja to the post. The commissioner’s appointment is a crucial one considering allegations of rigging marred the previous election from which the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the largest party.

PM Imran wrote a letter to Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday. Out of the three names proposed to the PML-N president, Raja’s was one of them. Both reportedly gave their nod to his name after which Raja was appointed to the post.

Here is a profile of the former bureaucrat, who is said to have lobbied for the post through personal contacts with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F).

Early schooling and higher education

Raja was born in a village in District Sargodha to a father who was an officer in the Pakistan Army.

He was schooled at the Government High School Bhera and later went to the Cadet College Hasan Abdal for further education.

Raja was an exceptional student who went on to obtain an MBBS degree from the prestigious King Edward Medical College in Lahore. In addition to that, Raja also earned a degree in law from the Punjab University and passed his Central Superior Services (CSS) Exam in 1987.

Life as an officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service

After passing his CSS exams, Raja was posted as assistant commissioner Islamabad.

Throughout his career, he held many important positions, including the post of deputy commissioner Islamabad. Raja was also posted as director-general Excise & Taxation Punjab, provincial secretary Communications & Works Punjab, provincial secretary Services & General Administration Punjab, and director-general Immigration & Passports in the federal government.

The new CEC also served as chief secretary Gilgit Baltistan (GB), CS Azad Kashmir (AJK), and federal secretary Petroleum & Natural Resources, and recently retired as secretary of Pakistan Railways.

Political contacts with PML-N, JUI-F

Raja is the son-in-law of Saeed Mehdi, a former principal secretary of Nawaz Sharif. When Sharif's government was ousted in 1999, Mehdi was imprisoned along with him.

According to a report published in The News earlier this month, Raja used to visit PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in prison when he would go there to visit his father in the year 2000.

Credible sources also told the publication that before the government proposed his name for the CEC slot, Raja had established contacts with Nawaz Sharif for support, which was forthcoming.

He also activated his communication channels with JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman, who also approved his name.

The PML-N was then tasked with lobbying other opposition parties for the approval of his name for the position.