- While appointing civil servants, neutrality of caretaker setup should be considered: ECP.
- ECP asks to ensure level playing field to all political parties, candidates.
- British HC emphasises need for “free, credible” elections in Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD: In order to ensure a level playing field for all political parties and contestants for the upcoming polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has advised interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar to avoid selecting persons of “known political allegiance” as cabinet members, The News reported Thursday.
In a letter to the caretaker PM’s secretary, Dr Syed Tauqir Hussain Shah, ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal Hussain wrote: “It is a general perception that the caretaker government is a continuation of the previous government. A recent press conference held by a political party is a pointer in this direction, whereby they have blamed the caretaker government for carrying on with the previous political legacy.”
The special secretary said it was desired that while selecting a member of the cabinet, due care should be exercised to avoid persons of known political allegiance. Moreover, while selecting senior civil servants for appointment to key positions, this aspect should also be kept in mind to strengthen the reality of a neutral caretaker setup.
He emphasised that Article 218 (3) of the Constitution mandated the electoral watchdog to organise and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as necessary to ensure that the polls are conducted honestly, justly, fairly, and in accordance with the law.
“This provision is actually a clarion call to ensure that a level playing field is provided to all political parties and contesting candidates for elections,” he wrote.
In a related development, British High Commissioner to Pakistan Jane Marriott emphasised the need for free, credible, transparent, and inclusive elections during a meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
Following the meeting, Marriott took to X, formerly Twitter, and wrote: “Important introductory meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja at ECP today.”
The diplomat added that she and CEC agreed that it was crucial for Pakistan to witness “free, credible, transparent and inclusive elections in line with the law”.
The meeting between the UK envoy and CEC Raja comes at a time when the country is awaiting the announcement of the next general polls.
This is not the first time that a foreign envoy has met the ECP chief and commented on the conduct of general polls in the country.
Last month, US Ambassador Donald Blome also met CEC Raja to reaffirm his country’s support for “free and fair elections”, adding that it would work to strengthen the US-Pakistan relationship with “whomever the Pakistani people choose”.
The surprise meeting of Marriott with the CEC triggered a reaction from the political and social spectrum.
The strongest reaction came from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, as its spokesperson said the objectives of the British high commissioner’s visit to the head office of ECP were incomprehensible.
The spokesperson expressed concern over the silence of the Foreign Office over the visit and insisted that the objectives of the British HC’s visit and other related details of her engagements at the ECP should be placed before the nation without any delay.