ISLAMABAD: One month on, the federal government and the interior ministry appear in no mood to implement a directive of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which had asked the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman to repatriate the board members appointed on deputation to ensure transparent elections.
In the first week of September, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja asked the CDA to transfer at least five members appointed to the agency on deputation. Subsequently, the estate member was sent back to the parent department by the federal government, but the process for the repatriation of other board members was slowed down.
Speaking to Dawn, an official of the CDA questioned the efficiency of the election watchdog.
Official warns of legal proceedings over delay in transfer
“This is a big question mark on the working of the ECP,” he said, asking why the commission has failed to get its order implemented.
“Why the bureaucracy is not implementing the ECP orders ahead of general elections; in fact, I would say this is akin to challenging the writ of the ECP,” the official added.
He said that the directives of the watchdog should be implemented in letter and spirit and all members should be sent back to their parent departments. “There should be no pick and choose; all members should be transferred through a single notification. No one is indispensable,” he stressed.
According to another CDA official, some of the board members were allegedly using their connections to stay in the civic agency.
The sources claimed that a “relative of one of the members is holding key post in the caretaker set-up and he might be influencing [the decision-makers] to stop the transfers of the board members”.
Other CDA officials rubbished this allegation, saying the said person had nothing to do with the affairs concerning the CDA members.
Speaking to Dawn, a senior ECP official said that non-compliance with the ECP orders “is not acceptable; the commission could initiate legal proceedings” against those responsible for the delay in the implementation of its directives.
CDA members transfer order
The orders for the removal of the CDA’s board of members had been issued by the ECP on September 5 in response to a CDA’s inquiry report and some media reports highlighting a land scam at the CDA’s Land Directorate.
“On perusal of the case, the commission has noted that the CDA/ICT Administration plays an important role in the conduct of free and fair elections.
“It has been desired as the general elections are at hand, the CDA members may be transferred to the Establishment Division, to the extent of those officers who are on deputation,” read the ECP letter, adding, “Moreover, the officers of CDA Cadre on such senior positions, may be shuffled. In both cases, officers with good repute and neutral dispensation should be posted to ensure the conduct of free and fair elections.”
Following the ECP letter, sources said the government sent the member estate to his parent department, but the four other deputation members are still holding their position and taking some long-term policy decisions as well.
In a follow-up show-cause notice sent to the CDA chairman, the election watchdog had sought an explanation for the non-compliance with its order.
An official of the ECP told Dawn the ECP had sent a reminder to the CDA chairman on September 12, asking him “to state the reasons, if any, for the non-issuance of the orders and immediately take up the issue with the interior secretary”.
Subsequently, CDA Chairman Anwarul Haq took up the matter with the interior ministry and shared the ECP’s letters, as the transfer of members is not the mandate of the chairman but the federal government, which is the competent forum.
Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2023