ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday took notice of Punjab caretaker government’s failure to ensure putting in place adequate security measures and has directed them to play their role in conducting free and fair elections.
“It appears, unfortunately, that concerned authorities have yet to take the bull by the horns,” Secretary ECP Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, said in a letter, to Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Dr Hasan Askari.
Citing media reports, the letter further said that election candidates have been harassed and physically threatened at various places. “Incidents in Multan and Narowal require immediate corrective measures,” he added.
Secretary ECP, in the letter, also referred to the presentation he made during a meeting chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk on June 25 in connection with the general elections scheduled to take place on July 25.
“In the said presentation, the participants were specifically made aware of the threat to political leaders and contesting candidates,” Muhammad stressed in the letter.
All the four provincial chief ministers, chief secretaries, inspector generals of police, interim federal ministers and interior secretary were present during the presentation.
The letter was written a day after PML-N candidate for Punjab Assembly’s seat PP-219 from Multan Rana Iqbal Siraj alleged that intelligence officials raided his warehouse and manhandled him.
This followed a media talk by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in London in which he accused a premier intelligence agency of repeatedly calling Siraj at his office in Multan and pressurising him to shift loyalties. He said other PML-N candidates were also under immense pressure to withdraw their PML-N candidatures for the general polls.
But, in another twist to this episode, Siraj later issued a televised statement saying his warehouse was raided by Agriculture Department and his accusations about intelligence agencies were the ‘result of a misunderstanding’.
The ECP secretary’s letter to Punjab caretaker CM says cites under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, underscoring that it is the duty of the electoral body to organise and conduct elections honestly, justly and fairly.
“The stated constitutional mandate can be achieved only in a conducive law and order environment,” it adds.
“I have been, therefore, directed in the spirit of Article 220 to enjoin, through you, the police and the administration not to rest on their oars till the task of a fair and free election is achieved.”
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