KARACHI/NAUSHAHRO FEROZE, Nov 5: In the wake of reports about the ruling Pakistan People’s Party using government machinery to influence the by-election in Naushahro Feroze PS-21 (Kandiaro-Mehrabpur) constituency, a PPP delegation sought to allay the misgivings of the Chief Election Commissioner, retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, on Monday.

Taking notice of complaints, the Election Commission had on Sunday ordered that the transfers of all officials in PS-21 be cancelled. Consequently, the Sindh IG cancelled the transfer of the Kandiaro DSP to Karachi.

The delegation was led by the Sindh PPP general secretary Taj Haider, who was accompanied by federal law minister Maula Bux Chandio, provincial information minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and advocate G.N. Qureshi.

The PPP leaders drew the chief election commissioner’s attention towards the tense situation created in PS-21 by rival candidates with their use of aggressive and provocative language against the PPP regarding the local government law, calling it a violation of the code of conduct.

Later, talking to Dawn, Mr Haider said that the PPP leaders had requested the chief election commissioner to deploy Rangers for the by-election, which is scheduled for Nov 17, given the tense situation in PS-21.

A total of 16 candidates are contesting the by-poll with the main competition among three candidates — Syed Sarfraz Shah of the PPP, Syed Abrar Shah of the National People’s Party (NPP) and Syed Zohaib Shah, who is the nephew of PPP MNA Zafar Ali Shah.

Mr Haider said that an explanation had been due by the PPP after allegations made by NPP chief Murtaza Khan Jatoi against the PPP leaders. Mr Jatoi had alleged that the PPP was interfering in the by-election by transferring officials and using government machinery.Mr Haider said he assured the chief election commissioner that the PPP was committed to free, fair and transparent elections and reminded him that the party had a history of following instructions issued in letter and spirit.

He said that the people who were now criticising the PPP had been ministers two weeks ago. Referring to the statement made by de-notified MPA Dr Ahmad Ali Shah, who had dissociated himself from the current PPP and had said that he pledged allegiance to Benazir Bhutto’s manifesto, Mr Haider said that Mr Shah had been elected to the provincial assembly on a PPP ticket. Dr Shah’s nephew, Zohaib Ali Shah, who was contesting the PS-21 by-poll, was not a member of the party, he said.

Talking about the postings of officers from PS-21, the general secretary said that they were done after consulting other lawmakers. However, the transfer of the Kandiaro DSP was the outcome of the order by the apex court demoting all the DSPs with out-of-turn promotions. He said that 13 DSPs who had received shoulder promotions had been affected by this order.

The chief election commissioner assured the PPP delegation that the Election Commission would take all possible measures to maintain law and order and conduct peaceful elections in the Kandiaro-Mehrabpur constituency.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission directed the Naushahro Feroze deputy commissioner to submit a report regarding transfers in the revenue department. In its response, the deputy commissioner cancelled all the transfers of revenue officials.

However, the orders for cancelling the transfer of Kandiaro’s mukhtiarkar had not been released till Monday night. When Dawn contacted the provincial additional deputy commissioner, Sikander Ali Khuskh, he said that he had received no orders from the revenue board which has the authority for cancelling the transfer.

Similarly, acting on another complaint the chief election commissioner directed the Sindh government’s chief secretary to ensure that no state resources were used in electoral campaign to favour any candidate.

After this order, the Sukkur division commissioner immediately issued directions to the Naushahro Feroze deputy commissioner to ensure that the Election Commission’s orders are followed to the letter.

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