Friday May 27, 2022

Daska by-election: Govt, security officials, political reps breached code of conduct, says ECP

The ECP submitted its reply in the petition filed by Ali Asjad Malhi, who contested the by-election on the PTI ticket

By News Desk & Our Correspondent
March 16, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has said that the petition challenging the re-polling in Sialkot’s NA-75 should be dismissed as many rules were violated during the February 19 by-election.

The ECP submitted its reply in the petition filed by Ali Asjad Malhi, who contested the by-election on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) ticket. The electoral body said that the code of conduct was issued on December 21, 2020 but still the rules were not followed. It said that it had ordered “a prohibition on the commencement and carrying on of the development work at the behest of the political offices and the government” but the work continued.

“Various violations of the code of conduct by public functionaries, government officials, leaders of the political parties, the security officials, administration and law enforcement agencies also surfaced,” it said.

“The civil administration failed to control the law and order which ultimately led to serious violence on the day of the poll in almost the whole constituency,” it said, adding that the “interference and the intermittent interruption in the polling process” also supported the contentions that it resulted from the law and order situation in the constituency.

The ECP said that a ban was also imposed on all postings and transfers in the constituency before the by-election. It said on January 1, Ramzan Kamboh, Daska DSP, was granted medical leave for four weeks and the charge was given to Sambrial DSP Zulfiqar Virk in violation of clear orders of the ECP. It filed a complaint and issued notices to Virk but they received no response. On February 2, the additional charge was withdrawn from Virk and Pasrur DSP Mazhar Ahmed Gondal took over.

“In order to defeat the order of the Election Commission and the transparency of the electoral process in the constituency, Virk was once again assigned the duty of Daska’s central circle in-charge under the alias Zulfiqar Ali for supervising the law and order situation,” the ECP claimed.

It said the government appointed “selective officers/officials” of law enforcing agencies and violated the election rules. It claimed that “security officials, political leaders from the contesting parties, public officials”, and the law enforcement agencies violated the rules and failed to ensure a “conducive environment for fair and transparent elections”.

The ECP had ordered the re-polling on March 18 but it has been rescheduled to April 10. The commission said that its duty is to “organise and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against”.

The voting was held from 8:00am to 5:00pm at polling stations across the constituency. Polling at some stations in Daska was halted after two people were killed and seven injured in a firing incident. The next day, the results were withheld after the results of 20 polling stations were delayed.

On March 5, PTI challenged the election commission’s decision to hold re-polling for Sialkot’s NA-75 by-elections. The petition was submitted by Ali Asjad, who contested the NA-75 by-polls on PTI’s ticket. Ali Asjad said in his reply that it was unfair to declare the administration and law enforcers responsible for problems at polling stations. He said the ECP announced its verdict without inquiry.

The PML-N’s Syed Nosheen Iftikhar, who was contesting the election, said in her reply that the court must dismiss the application of her rival candidate with fine. She said it was a matter of grave concern that 20 presiding officers went missing in the constituency. She claimed that people were stopped from voting in the constituency.