Khyber Pakhtunkhwa interim Information Minister Feroze Jamal said on Thursday that nineteen members of the caretaker cabinet in the province, including him, had submitted their resignations to interim Chief Minister Azam Khan in light of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) instructions.

The ECP had directed the caretaker CM last month to immediately sack his ministers, advisers and special assistants “involved in politics” to ensure free and fair electoral exercise in the province. The instructions were issued after PTI KP chief Ali Amin Khan Gandapur wrote a letter — which was signed by 52 ex-MPAs — to the ECP, seeking a level-playing field for all political parties in the coming general elections.

“The CM told us the election commission has made it clear that he needed to constitute a new non-political interim cabinet as all of its current members had political associations,” Jamal told Dawn.com today, adding that 19 of them had resigned and the rest could not as they were out of Peshawar.

“Those who are out of the city are returning [to submit their resignations]. But in case they are unable to resign for any reason, they would be de-notified tomorrow,” he said.

Jamal added that it was “too early to say when the resignations will be accepted”.

A caretaker government has been at the helm in KP since January when the provincial cabinet was dissolved after PTI Chairman Imran Khan had vowed to disassociate himself from the “current corrupt political system” by quitting the assemblies where his party was in power.

Letters by PTI, ECP

Last month, 52 former MPAs from the PTI’s KP chapter approached the ECP seeking a level-playing field for all political parties in the coming general elections.

They were signatories on a letter written Gandapur to the ECP, which said: “The conduct of KP caretaker government from its inception has raised serious concerns about its impartiality and intentions towards PTI. This is evident not only from its pressers and statements but also from the very composition of the entire cabinet, which consists almost exclusively of nominees from parties of Pakistan Democratic Movement and their allies like PPP and ANP.”

The PTI letter said that “admission along with the blatant interference and alleged corruption by the office of the governor” was made by the representatives of the ANP, PPP and PML-N during talk shows on news channels.

It alleged that the caretaker ministers openly campaigned against the PTI compromising the level-playing field necessary in the caretaker setup for it to have the credibility to hold free and fair elections in the province.

In response, the ECP wrote a letter to the KP interim CM, asking him to sack those members of his cabinet who were involved in politics.

“The ECP has desired to request you while keeping the interim cabinet members at minimum to review the appointments [in light of the criteria as laid down in the election laws] and to de-notify such ministers, advisers and special assistants involved in politics immediately so that free, fair and transparent elections are ensured for future,” read a letter written by the ECP to KP CM.

The ECP said it was bound by Article 218(3) of the Constitution to organise and conduct elections in a free, fair, transparent and impartial manner and that the caretaker government had a special role to perform in help it ensure that a level-playing field is provided to all stakeholders, including contesting candidates of political parties, to enable them to exercise their capacities for the good of voters without fear or favour and without let or hindrance of any sort.

It added that the caretaker government, including cabinet members, advisers, special assistants and other relevant functionaries, could only provide an “objective environment” without being involved in politics and election campaigns against the violation of provisions of Section 230 (1)(d) and 2(g) of the Elections Act, 2017.

The ECP regretted that it had come to its notice through media and other sources that some ministers, advisers and special assistants in the current interim cabinet were appointed on the basis of political affiliations.

The ECP asked the caretaker CM to sack those members of his cabinet who were “involved in politics” to ensure free and fair electoral exercise in the province and said the government should give top priority to the matter.

Opinion

Editorial

Saudi investment
Updated 10 Apr, 2024

Saudi investment

The state has to address barriers that stand in the way of attracting foreign investment, and create a pro-business environment.
Charity for change
Updated 11 Apr, 2024

Charity for change

PAKISTANIS are large-hearted people who empty their pockets at the slightest hint of another’s need. The Stanford...
World Bank’s advice
Updated 09 Apr, 2024

World Bank’s advice

The next IMF programme will be far tougher than any other Pakistan has embarked on in the past.
Middle East heat
09 Apr, 2024

Middle East heat

America must communicate to Israel that further provocations, particularly targeting sovereign states, will be unacceptable.
Killing fields
09 Apr, 2024

Killing fields

PERHAPS rankled by the daily flood of grisly news — murders, armed robberies, muggings and kidnappings — and...