SC ruling ignores security concerns: KP governor

Published March 5, 2023
KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali speaking to Aaj News on Saturday. — YouTube/AajTVOfficial
KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali speaking to Aaj News on Saturday. — YouTube/AajTVOfficial

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Governor Ghulam Ali on Saturday expressed reservations over the Supreme Court ruling that elections in Punjab and KP be held within 90 days, saying that if any untoward incident occurred during that time, then “those who made the decision” would be to blame.

Mr Ali questioned whether the apex court took into account the “security concerns” raised by the provincial government amid a surge in terrorism in the province.

According to the governor, a high-level meeting attended by the KP chief secretary, police chief, and relevant officials, had already briefed caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan on the security situation. The interim CM was apprised that security personnel would be required for the smooth conduct of general elections as well as for the protection of politicians during election campaigns.

Ghulam Ali refuses to open ‘sealed ECP letter’, likely to announce election date tomorrow

“I am bound under the Constitution to propose a date for the general elections which I will do, but those asking for polls and those making a decision in this regard will be responsible if anything [untoward] happens,” Governor Ghulam Ali told Dawn.

The governor also questioned whether the federal government was in a position to pay for the elections and whether the KP government was in a position to provide security and staff for polls.

Speaking about the date set for polls in Punjab, Mr Ali stated that he wanted a unanimous decision on polling dates. The governor claimed he called President Arif Alvi to suggest a meeting with ECP, but Dr Alvi ignored his request and announced the date for elections in Punjab unilaterally. He said a unanimous decision would have sent a positive message.

The governor stated that he would propose the date, but would no longer be a part of the process after that, since the ECP would then directly contact the provincial government for the election.

‘Sealed letter’

The governor also confirmed receiving a letter from the ECP on March 3 asking him to propose a date for the general elections. He added that he was told by his staff not to open the letter, since it was addressed to his secretary and sealed. The letter would be opened tomorrow [Monday], after which, he would propose a date for the polls, he added.

On Jan 25, the ECP proposed to KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali to hold the provincial assembly polls between April 9 and 17. Following the ECP’s letter, the governor wrote to the caretaker chief minister on Feb 5 seeking his assessment of the security situation in light of polls.

The governor issued a reminder to the chief minister on Feb 10 seeking his early assessment of the security situation in the province upon which a meeting was held on February 22. During the meeting, CM Khan was informed that since the elections in merged and settled districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be held simultaneously, the available strength of the police was insufficient.

They said at least 56,000 additional police personnel were required to make security arrangements for the upcoming polls and 1,500 Frontier Corps personnel would be needed for the security of political leaders during election campaigns.

Published in Dawn, EOS, March 5th, 2023

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