KARACHI, April 16: Former Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Tuesday criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the caretaker government for withdrawing the security protocol being given to him under the law and advised them that they discharge their constitutional obligation of holding free, fair, transparent elections in peaceful atmosphere instead of taking dictation from others.
Mr Shah, who is also president of the Pakistan Peoples Party Sindh chapter, was addressing a press conference at his residence in Defence.
He said his complaint was not against the Supreme Court ruling but the Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim in particular for withdrawing security protocol that was given to him in accordance with the law adopted by the Sindh Assembly on the basis of a private bill.
After the withdrawal of security, he said, he wrote a letter to the CEC and the caretaker chief minister to lodge protest over it. He added that the chief minister expressed his ignorance about the withdrawal of his security by ‘the ECP unilaterally’. In the letter, he said he had given reasons for security requirement.
Referring to other provinces where 600 to 700 security guards were being deployed on the security of former chief ministers, Mr Shah said this contradiction was beyond comprehension, because they respected neither court rulings nor laws framed by the assemblies.
The people responsible for conducting the elections should remember that whatever they were saying at present would become part of record and people would remember it as they remembered the verdict given by Chief Justice Mohammad Munir against the legitimate government.
He advised the ECP not to pass such decisions that did not meet legal and constitutional requirements.
Mr Shah was also critical of the use of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution for disqualifying candidates, particularly former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who is PPPP secretary general.
Since 1973 six to seven elections had been conducted in the country but the interpretation of the articles had never been made the way it was being done today, he said. He said under the articles only those were disqualified who were either defaulter or convicted for moral turpitude and had not completed two years from the conviction.
He said it was a matter of regret that the former prime minister was not being allowed to contest election despite the fact that he had not been convicted nor even indicted in the case that was still under investigation. Depriving him of using his right to contest election amounted to making another attempt to hijack PPP mandate, Mr Shah said.
“This treatment was not new, as since the PPP formation repeated attempts have been made to keep the party out of power,” he said.
In this connection, he referred to the allegation of rigging after 1977 elections and said when the matter was resolved there was no reason for Gen Ziaul Haq to impose martial law and deprive the people of their elected leader. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s killing was still remembered as judicial murder, he added.
After the 1999 military coup by Gen Pervez Musharraf, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was disqualified and the party was not allowed to participate in the elections, he recalled. The party was denied its election symbol of arrow and the party leadership had to form PPP Parliamentary to contest elections because the party believed in democracy for which our leadership had given great sacrifices, he added.
He also referred to some orders passed by the caretaker government and the ECP that he said were beyond their purview such as transfers and postings in the government, recruitment and delimitations of constituencies without fresh census.
Reminding the caretaker government and the election commission their obligation to hold free, fair elections in peaceful environment, Mr Shah said there were certain forces which did not believe in democracy and elections. “These very people are attempting to provoke the PPP but we cannot be provoked for we want to see elections held on time without any delay,” he added.