LAHORE: Accusing the PML-N of using state machinery to win upcoming by-polls and alleging that the Lahore DIG operations and deputy commissioner are the ruling party’s collaborators, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) central Punjab President Yasmin Rashid on Friday sought the officers suspension from service.

In a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, Sikandar Sultan Raja, she said by-elections were being held on four Punjab Assembly seats in the districts of Lahore, Sheikhupura and Sahiwal. As the PML-N does not have majority in the Punjab assembly, “it is desperately trying to steal the mandate of the PTI,” the former minister said.

“For this purpose, district administration and police is being used to deter the workers of PTI. All of this is being done with active involvement of home minister, DIG (Operations) Lahore and District Commissioner, Lahore,” the letter reads.

She alleged the Lahore deputy commissioner (DC), through revenue officers, was actively involved in preparation of lists of the PTI activists to keep them away from the by-polls. Previously, she said, the DC, despite court orders had not released the PTI workers detained under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance. However, she said that later when a contempt petition was filed, the DC had to tender an apology in the court.

“This shows the extent to which he will go to disrupt the process of bye-election,” the PTI leader said.

The ECP has powers to issue necessary directions to the government for the posting and transfer of any official. If the ECP thinks it appropriate, it can also suspend a public servant from service who does any act to influence the election result.

Ms Rashid alleged that the police, with an objective to influence the by-poll results, were adding terrorism sections to the first information reports (FIRs) registered against the PTI leaders and workers under normal penal provisions for participating in the “peaceful march” on May 25.

Keeping in view the sensitivity of the by-polls and to avoid violence against the PTI workers it is imperative that the Lahore DIG operations and DC be suspended from service forthwith, or a direction regarding their transfer be issued, she demanded.

The PTI leader said the ECP was duty-bound “to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.” The commission issues a code of conduct which every political party and contesting candidates have to follow, she says.

Referring to alleged attack on PTI election office in Johar Town, she said the silence of the CCPO, DIG operations and DC amounts to violation of duty.

The letter reads that through electronic media it has come to the petitioner’s notice that the ECP has taken notice of the incident. She also referred Rule 171 of the Election Rules, 2017, pointing out that the ECP appoints monitoring teams to monitor the election campaign of political parties and the candidates. “Had these monitoring teams been properly functioning, this incident would not have occurred in the first place,” she said.

She sought strict action against Nazir Chohan, the PML-N candidate from PP-167, alleging he is guilty of violation of sections 14 to 16 of the ECP’s code of conduct.

Ms Rashid also sought an inquiry against the government officials, including Lahore DIG operations and DC, demanding they be stopped immediately from discharging their duties.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2022

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