PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa caretaker minister for information Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel on Friday claimed that it was not possible to hold fair election to the provincial assembly as there’s a “100 per cent” tilt to former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, in the entire local bureaucracy.

“We [caretakers] have taken an oath to hold free and fair [PA] elections but we won’t be able to do so due to the partiality of the current bureaucratic set-up towards the former ruling party PTI. Bureaucracy is creating hurdles for us and even the chief secretary seems to be helpless to act against it,” Mr Kakakhel told reporters here during a briefing on the cabinet’s prolonged meeting on Thursday.

The information minister said that it was not humanly possible for people to stay politically neutral as they had political affiliations or leanings.

He said that the caretaker government won’t be able to carry out its duties regarding the fairness of the upcoming electoral exercise until the secretaries holding key administrative positions in the province for six and seven years were transferred.

Minister says fair polls not possible in current circumstances

Mr Kakakhel advocated the immediate reshuffle of all secretaries in the province to ensure the fairness of the provincial assembly’s election.

“It [bureaucratic reshuffle] is not something difficult. Just transfer secretaries for at least two months or until the elections are held and let them return to their respective posts before the elected government is installed,” he said.

The minister said that he didn’t label bureaucrats as the pro-PTI people but would say that no tilt was seen to any other political party in the bureaucracy.

He said that it was the responsibility of the caretaker government to provide a level playing field to all political parties for participation in the assembly election as well as to help the Election Commission of Pakistan conduct the electoral exercise.

Mr Kakakhel also said the caretakers were also supposed to “identify and remove” political appointees to the government departments.

He said that the last provincial government led by the PTI had employed around 5,000 social media workers against the monthly salary of Rs25,000 to promote the party’s interests.

The minister said that the information department had just 1,200 such recruits, who highlighted the PTI government’s policies and acts while staying home.

He said that the government would ask the Federal Investigation Agency to probe recruitment by the last government.

About the cabinet’s meeting, the minister told reporters that the forum decided about the dissolution of the boards of governors and policy board for 10 medical teaching institutions in the province.

He added that a committee had been formed to see which board to be done away with first and that the entire dissolution exercise would be completed in two weeks before a report about it was put up to the chief minister.

Mr Kakakhel said that the cabinet had approved the allocation of Rs19 billion funds for the Ramazan Package for the provision of free flour to the deserving people during the fasting month.

He said that initially, the package would have free wheat flour but later, more essential goods would be added to it.

The minister said that the government had Zakat funds but since there hadn’t been any Zakat councils since November last year, that money hadn’t been disbursed to the deserving people.

He said that a committee had been formed to provide the maximum relief to the poor people badly hit by high inflation.

Mr Kakakhel said that the caretaker government had reduced the number of law officer posts at the advocate general’s offices from 61 to 43.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2023

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