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– File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The election cells of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) set up recently to help the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the scrutiny of candidates for May 11 elections, became operational on Friday.

Election cells have started operating from today in NAB’s headquarters and four regional headquarters and they will provide all sorts of information sought by the commission, NAB’s Assistant Director Ramzan Sajid told Dawn.

The cells have been formed on the basis of a decision taken at a meeting held on Feb 20. The meeting, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakharuddin G. Ebrahim, was attended by heads of NAB, Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and National Database Registration Authority (Nadra).

The meeting had decided that the ECP, with the help of relevant organisations, will identify tax-evaders, loan and utility bill defaulters and beneficiaries of written-off loans to prevent them from contesting polls.

NAB received an Election Commission of Pakistan letter on March 15 seeking an inter-departmental linkage for sharing data online to determine eligibility of candidates.

The NAB official said the bureau had developed its own mechanism to provide up-to-date information to returning officers efficiently and promptly.

NAB has been mandated to provide a list of all convicts, including plea bargain details, the official said.

All cases of loan defaults referred under section 31C of the NAB Ordinance will be reported to the election commission in detail whether they are at the inquiry, investigation or trial stage or completed through plea bargain and voluntary return programmes.

Each election cell consists of three officials and its work will be supervised by the NAB’s Director General Awareness and Prevention.

A NAB source told Dawn that the bureau was compiling necessary data which would be passed on to the ECP soon.

Details of bank loan default, tax evasion and plea bargain have been included in new nomination papers prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Politicians in the ruling coalition and the opposition criticised the new nomination papers and the matter was challenged in the Supreme Court which endorsed the ECP’s decision.