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KARACHI: Expressing no confidence in the caretaker government in Sindh and provincial election commissioner, Grand Democratic Alliance chief Pir Pagara has appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the situation and post a neutral administration in the province.

He said if a neutral set-up was not posted in the province in the next 10 days the GDA would be compelled to give call for a complete strike.

Speaking at a press conference here at Kingri House on Monday, the GDA chief called for posting of neutral officials on administrative positions and in the police department.

The GDA held an urgent meeting to discuss the overall political situation. Senior leaders Syed Ghaus Ali Shah, Dr Fehmida Mirza, Ayaz Latif Palijo, Sardar Raheem, Dr Safdar Abbasi, Irfanullah Marwat and others were present.

Pir Pagara accuses the caretaker set-up, provincial election commission of partiality

Pir Pagara said the sky would not fall if the July 25 elections were postponed for “10 to 15 days”.

He said that not only the caretaker set-up was partial but the election commission in Sindh was also not neutral.

He said that the postings in the provincial bureaucracy and police department had been given in controversial circumstances as the caretakers posted the same officers who had been enjoying postings during the last 10 years.

He demanded that the establishment division post officials in Sindh so that every political party in the province had a level playing field.

He said the elections would be meaningless if the caretaker government could not provide free atmosphere and an open field.

Former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza said that the caretaker chief minister was extremely weak as the local government officials were running their opponents’ election campaign and the provincial election commissioner was not prepared to provide relief to them.

She said even inspector general of police was weak as corrupt officials were being posted. “The country is being pushed towards anarchy and if fair elections are not held the GDA will not accept the polls.”

Dr Abbasi alleged that Abdul Ghaffar Soomro, a member from Sindh in the ECP, was not neutral.

Mr Marwat said that returning officers (ROs) were finding mistakes in the election forms of those opposing the PPP.

Mr Palijo, who is the GDA’s general secretary, claimed that only the other day PPP leader Faryal Talpur presided over a meeting of ROs.

Mr Shah said there was one law for Sindh and another for other provinces for conducting elections.

The GDA had presented its reservations and if caretaker federal government did not take their demands seriously, the GDA would announce its next strategy, he added.

‘Continuity of PPP govt’

The GDA also sent a letter to the ECP in which it expressed its lack of confidence in the caretaker set-up in the province and termed it continuity of the PPP government in Sindh.

In the letter, the GDA said that across the province PPP men and their favourite officials were posted, which was not acceptable to the alliance.

It claimed that the lists for posting of administrative officials, including police officials, were prepared by the PPP government while the caretaker government had only issued their posting orders.

It demanded that transfers of secretaries, commissioners, deputy commissioners and police officials be made through the establishment division on the pattern of Punjab.

The GDA also expressed its surprise over postings of most of the ROs from the education department despite the fact that most officials were facing accountability cases and appearing before the investigation institutions.

In the latter, it was also pointed out that local bodies’ heads and elected office-bearers were engaged in running the PPP election campaign.

Holding transparent and fair elections was the constitutional responsibility of the ECP in which it had failed so far as pre-poll rigging was in full swing, it said, accusing the caretaker government of pre-poll rigging for paving the way for installing the next PPP government.

“If our demands are not met for holding transparent and fair elections, the GDA reserved its right to fully lodge its protest,” the letter added.

IGP phones Palijo

Sindh police chief Amjad Saleemi on Monday phoned Mr Palijo soon after the alliance blamed the police for providing “protocol to former ministers belonging to the PPP”.

Mr Palijo said that the IGP told him that he had ordered removal of protocol.

However, a police spokesperson said in a statement that security had been provided to politicians in the light of recommendations of the newly established “threat assessment committee” at the provincial level.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2018