ECP urges caretakers to ensure ‘level playing field’ for all political parties in next polls

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The Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. — ECP website
The Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. — ECP website
  • ECP directs caretaker governments to assist it in holding elections.
  • Interim govts barred from announcing new development schemes. 
  • “All necessary steps will be taken for smooth conduct of elections.”

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday instructed caretaker governments in the Centre and all the provinces to provide a level playing field to all contesting candidates and political parties during the upcoming general elections in the country.

In a statement, the election watchdog said that the National Assembly and provincial assemblies in Sindh and Balochistan stand dissolved on August 9, 11 and 12 respectively.

Senator Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar — a lawmaker belonging to Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) — has been selected as caretaker prime minister. The decision came after the second round of consultations between then prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and Leader of the Opposition in the dissolved NA Raja Riaz, and a summary to this effect had been approved by President Arif Alvi under Article 224 1A.

In Sindh, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Leader of the Opposition in the dissolved provincial assembly Rana Ansar on Monday night reached a consensus on the appointment of Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar as the interim CM.

The selection for the name of caretaker chief minister in Balochistan remains in limbo, as incumbent CM Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo and Leader of the Opposition Malik Sikandar Khan could not reach a consensus on any name so far.

The ECP said that it was mandated with the constitutional duty to organise and conduct elections in terms of Article 218(3) of the Constitution and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the elections are conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law.

“It has become imperative that the ECP shall take all necessary steps under the Constitution and prevalent law for the smooth conduct of general elections,” it added.

The electoral watchdog directed the caretaker governments at the federal and provincial levels to assist the ECP in holding elections in accordance with the law and ensure the compliance of all the notifications, directives and provisions as laid down in Section 230 of the Act ibid.

The ECP also placed a ban on transfers and postings of public officers to ensure transparent elections. “Not to post or transfer any public official after the issuance of this notification under the federal and the provincial governments without prior approval in writing of the ECP as laid down in Clause 2(f) of Section 230 of the Elections Act, 2017,” it added.

The election body also banned all kinds of recruitment in any ministry, division, department or institution under the federal, provincial and local governments with immediate effect, except with the prior approval of the Commission.

The ECP also refrained the interim government from announcing or executing any kind of development schemes at federal and provincial levels except those which are ongoing or approved before the issuance of the notification.

All development funds relating to local government institutions in the provinces and cantonment boards, for the new schemes. throughout the country, will stand frozen after the announcement of the election schedule with immediate effect till the announcement of the results of the general elections, read the notification.

It further said the caretaker governments shall perform their functions and attend to day-to-day matters which are necessary to run the affairs of the federation and provinces in accordance with the law. 

Reshuffle of administrative officers

In order to ensure free, fair and impartial general elections to the national and provincial assemblies, the ECP has directed the secretary Establishment Division to reshuffle the federal secretaries in the federal government and other important position holders who can influence the upcoming polls.

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