ISLAMABAD: One month later, it is clear that the federal government and the interior ministry have no intention of carrying out the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) request that the head of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) repatriate the board members who had been deputized to ensure fair elections.
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Sikandar Sultan Raja, the chief election commissioner, requested that the CDA transfer at least five of the deputies who had been assigned to the agency during the first week of September. The federal government then sent the estate member back to the parent department, but the process for sending the other board members home was delayed. An official issues a legal warning over the transfer delay.
He remarked, “This is a big question mark on the working of the ECP,” and questioned why the commission had not succeeded in having its order carried out.
“Why the bureaucracy is not implementing the ECP orders ahead of general elections; in fact, I would say this is akin to challenging the writ of the ECP,” the official continued.
According to him, all personnel should be returned to their parent departments and the watchdog’s instructions should be followed exactly. “There shouldn’t be a pick-and-choose process; all members should receive a single message when they have been transferred. Nobody is necessary, he insisted.
Another CDA representative claimed that several of the board members allegedly used their connections to remain in the government organisation.
A “relative of one of the members is holding key post in the caretaker set-up and he might be influencing [the decision-makers] to stop the transfers of the board members,” according to the sources.
Other CDA officials denied this claim, claiming the alleged individual had nothing to do with the matters involving CDA members.
A senior ECP official told Dawn that failure to follow its orders “is not acceptable; the commission could initiate legal proceedings” against individuals in charge of the holdup in putting its orders into effect.
Members of CDA transmit order
In reaction to a CDA inquiry report and some media reports showing a land scam at the CDA’s Land Directorate, the ECP issued orders for the dismissal of the board members of the CDA on September 5.
“After reviewing the matter, the commission found that the CDA/ICT Administration contributes significantly to the organisation of free and fair elections.
The ECP letter stated that it had been hoped that “the officers of CDA Cadre on such senior positions, may be shuffled” and that “it has been desired as the general elections are at hand, the CDA members may be transferred to the Establishment Division, to the extent that those officers who are on deputation.” To ensure the conduct of free and fair elections, officers of good standing and impartial disposition should be posted in both situations.
According to reports, the government returned the member estate to his parent department in response to the ECP letter, but the four other delegation members are still in their positions and are making long-term policy decisions.
The election watchdog had requested an explanation in a follow-up show-cause notice it sent to the CDA chairman for the non-compliance with its directive.
The CDA chairman was reminded by the ECP on September 12 to “state the reasons, if any, for the non-issuance of the orders and immediately take up the issue with the interior secretary,” according to an official of the ECP who spoke with Dawn about the matter.
Since the transfer of members is not within the chairman’s purview but rather falls under the purview of the federal government, which is the appropriate forum, CDA Chairman Anwarul Haq subsequently brought up the issue with the interior ministry and shared the ECP’s letters.