PESHAWAR: The district returning officers (DROs) of all districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal agencies for the forthcoming general elections took oath of their responsibilities here on Tuesday under the Elections Act, 2017, which has happened for the first time in the country.
KP Provincial Election Commissioner Pir Maqbool Ahmad administered the oath to the DROs, who pledged that they would discharge their duties and perform their functions honestly, to the best of their ability, faithfully, in line with the provisions of the Election Act, 2017, and the Elections Rules, 2017, and in accordance with the directions of the Election Commission of Pakistan without any fear or favour, affection or ill-will.
The district and sessions judge of a district will serve as the DRO for that particular district, whereas the political agent of a tribal agency will act as DRO of that agency.
They include KP district and sessions judges, Fata political agents
“The forthcoming general elections are vital for the political future and stability of the country,” said ECP, KP, member retired Justice Irshad Qaiser.
Ms Qaiser said conducting free, fair and impartial elections in the country was the constitutional obligation of the ECP, and for fulfilling that duty, the role of the DROs was of immense importance.
“The enactment of the Elections Act, 2017 was an important step towards electoral reforms in the country which has made the Election Commission of Pakistan more empowered,” she said, adding that keeping in view sensitivity of elections and to ensure its fairness the appointment of judicial officers as DROs and returning officers was made under the Elections Act, 2017.
The ECP member said appointing judicial officers as DROs was because of the trust of people on the judiciary and would pave way for holding fair polls.
She said under Section 56 of the Elections Act, the election officers had to take oath before assuming their responsibilities, which would make them realise the importance of their duty and would also enhance the trust of people on the electoral process.
Ms Qaiser told DROs that they had to perform very important tasks as the preparation of lists of polling stations and appointment of polling staff would take place under their supervision.
She added that the DROs would also keep an eye on the law and order situation in their districts.
Pir Maqbool Ahmad said the importance of impartial polls for the stability of the country was an undeniable fact.
He said free elections could strengthen the nation.
He said the ECP had taken several steps for fulfilling the objective of free elections.
“The eyes of the entire nation are set on the ECP. The holding of elections is no less than a challenge for the commission, which will hopefully meet it as expected by the people,” he said.
ECP’ director (gender affairs) Haroon Shinwari moderated the programme, which was also attended by ECP additional secretary (training) Zafar Iqbal Hussain and director (elections) Shehzad Ahmad.
Following the oath-taking ceremony, a daylong training session was also conducted for the DROs.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018