HYDERABAD: Sindh United Party (SUP) president Syed Jalal Mahmood Shah has said that centralisation of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is essential for smooth polling process.

Addressing a press conference at the local press club on Monday when he launched his party’s manifesto, he said ECP offices at the district and taluka levels should be strengthened.

He said his party believed in decentralisation of powers, but the ECP’s centralisation was indeed necessary. The existing electoral rolls were updated and despite some flaws, they were better now. He said improvement in voters’ lists was largely due to centralisation of ECP’s resources, adding that its infrastructure needed to be strengthened at the district level.

He said the ECP offices must have sufficient space where electoral record could be preserved. He said that returning officers should sit in ECP’s permanent offices. Presently, he said, ECP offices did not have proper space for keeping record of elections.

He said police officers at the sub-divisional levels had been transferred, which was a positive thing, but the SUP wanted that SHOs, who had questionable roles in past elections, must also be transferred. He said that in Jamshoro district, the wife of the outgoing deputy commissioner was posted, but if she was performing well and in a neutral way, there was no need for her replacement. He said that by and large officers who were posted by the PPP government in 10 years were being posted again.

About an attack on the Pakistan Peoples Party chairman’s rally, he said it could not be appreciated. He said voters should give up these violent tendencies and express their ire through their vote.

He said the SUP had fielded candidates on seven national and 31 provincial assembly seats. The SUP was backing two independent candidates and making seat adjustments with the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. He said the SUP had preferred its workers instead of electables.

About the SUP’s manifesto, he said the party has strongly talked about permanent interests of Sindh and it wanted good governance. He said the party manifesto also threw light on important issues of health, education, development and economy.

He further said the SUP was not unmindful of sea intrusion in the coastal belt of Sindh where millions of acres of land had been devoured by sea. Good governance was the key to everything, he said.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018