ISLAMABAD: On the very day the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued the schedule for local government polls in the remaining districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the provincial government introduced massive transfers and postings of officials who would serve as the election officials.
Federal Minister Murad Saeed’s Swat district has seen more bureaucratic changes than any other district as his panel of local officials will be challenged by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz among other parties.
The ECP released the election schedule on Thursday (Jan 20) for the second phase of elections in the rest of the 18 KP districts, and simultaneously the KP establishment department (ED) notified a large number of transfers and postings of assistant commissioners (ACs), who serve as the returning or assistant returning officers (AROs) in the polls.
Nine days ago on Jan 11, the KP administration changed the deputy commissioners (DCs) of these districts. Under the poll law, the government is barred from changing officials after the announcement of the election schedule.
The ECP’s prior explicit approval is required for any such reshuffle. According to the notifications issued by the ED, copies of which are available with The News, the AC, Babuzai, Swat, has been shifted to the chief secretary’s office; the AC, Miranshah, Waziristan, to Babuzai, Swat; the AC, Behram, Swat, to the provincial disaster management authority (PDMA); the AC, Chagharzai, Buner, to Behram, Swat; another AC of Behram, to the PDMA; AC, Kabah, Swat, to Behram; AC Babuzai, Swat, to Kolai Palas; AC, Kolai Palas, to the ED; AC Khawazakhela, Swat, to the ED, AC, Swat, to Khawazakhela, Swat, and AC, Upper Dir, to the ED. A section officer of Public Health Engineering Department has been posted as the AC, Dargai, Malakand.
Besides, the AC, Buner, has been sent to the ED; AC, Lakki Marwat, to Buner; AC, Kurram Lower, to the ED; deputy secretary of the Board of Revenue posted as the AC, Kurram Lower; AC, Kurram Central, moved to the ED; additional deputy commissioner (general) (ADCG), Bara, Khyber, made the AC, Kurram Central; AC, Kurram Upper, shifted to the ED; AC, Kohat, posted as the AC, Kurram Upper; AC, Battagram, sent to the ED; a section officer made AC, Battagram; AC Oghi, Mansehra, shifted to the ED; and ADCG, Mansehra, appointed as the AC, Oghi, Mansehra.
In addition, the ADCG, Bajaur, has been transferred to the KP health department; a deputy secretary of the sports department made the ADCG, Bajaur; an additional secretary of the law department made the ADCG Swabi; ADCG, Swabi, asked to report to the ED, another official posted as the ADCG, Shangla and yet another officer made the ADCG, Malakand.
The districts, including the Peshawar Valley, where the elections had been held were the strongholds of the PTI considering the results of the 2018 general elections. The PTI had swept the polls in these areas. But it received a huge drubbing in the local elections on Dec 19.
It was after this electoral setback that Prime Minister Imran Khan changed the organizational structure of the party. It was officially stated that the infighting and allotment of tickets to close relatives and friends of certain PTI leaders resulted in the defeat. He announced that in future he would personally supervise the distribution of tickets.
During the second phase, local polls will be held in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Batagram, Torghar, Kohistan Upper and Kohistan Lower, Kolai Palas Kohistan, Swat, Malakand, Shangla, Lower Dir, Chitral Lower and Chitral Upper, Kurram, Orakzai, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
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