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Sharifs’ security cover be trimmed: ECP

April 13, 2013

PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif. — Photo by AP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has moved to seek withdrawal of extraordinary official security cover being provided to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif.

A senior ECP official told Dawn that a letter was being written to the provincial government to withdraw all security measures that exceeded the protocol allowed to the Sharif brothers in their capacity as former prime minister and chief minister.

It was brought to the notice of ECP that more than 750 personnel of law-enforcement agencies were currently deployed to provide security to the Sharif brothers.

In another important development, the ECP asked the government to replace the Inspector General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Police.

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of Establishment Division, the ECP sought removal of Akbar Hoti, whose six cousins were contesting the May 11 general elections for national and provincial assembly seats.

“May I refer to the telephonic conversation on April 11 of the Secretary of Election Commission with you regarding replacement of Inspector General (Police) of KP on the ground that six of his cousins are contesting general elections.

“The list of his relatives is also faxed to you. In this backdrop, I have been directed to request you to kindly issue necessary directions for immediate replacement of the Inspector General (Police) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a suitable person of established neutrality,” reads a letter signed by the Director General (Elections) of ECP, Mr Sher Afgan, and addressed to the Secretary of Establishment Division.

Former law minister S.M. Zafar said that the ECP had no power to make appointments.

“This is the difference between our Election Commission and the Indian Election Commission, but the Indian EC has power to do so,” he said. “They [the ECP officials] are going beyond their jurisdiction. No rules allow them [to do so],” said Dr Khalid Ranjha.

The ECP, in a reforms package, had sought powers to make transfers and postings to ensure fair and free elections.

A parliamentary committee comprising members of Senate and the last National Assembly had rejected the package.

However, a senior ECP official said that under Article 218 of the constitution, the ECP had powers to take all measures to ensure fair and free general elections.

POSTAL BALLOTS: The ECP extended the date for filing applications for postal ballots till April 25, according to a press statement. The commission asked prisoners as well as government employees, including members of armed forces, who are also entitled to exercise their right of vote, to send their votes through postal ballots and send applications to respective returning officers within the extended date to avail the facility of postal ballots.