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ECP, presidency at loggerheads over security, PPP allegations

Updated May 09, 2013
President Asif Ali Zardari.— File Photo
President Asif Ali Zardari.— File Photo

ISLAMABAD, May 8: The Presidency and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are at loggerheads over the issue of providing security to the three mainstream political parties which are being persistently attacked by the Taliban as well as complaints by the PPP (Parliamentarians) about “biased attitude” of some members of the commission.

President Asif Ali Zardari wrote a confidential letter to Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim on April 30 drawing his attention to some issues which, according to him, would have disastrous consequences if left unaddressed.

The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, mentioned some incidents and expressed “utmost concern” over the situation. The presidential communication warned the ECP of “disturbing consequences” if the issues were not resolved.

“A steady deterioration of the law and order situation with terrorist groups attacking political parties, particularly the PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) while some other parties have a free hand in running their election campaigns,” the letter said.

It said no measures had been taken to thwart the attempts by non-state actors against the “progressive political parties” which were being denied a level playing field. Except a few political parties in Punjab, the remaining parties in Punjab and three other provinces were facing terrorist attacks on a daily basis which had restricted their election campaigns, it added.

“The non-state actors are seeking to manipulate elections and want to doctor the election results to suit their obscurantist agenda posing a direct threat to the entire democratic process,” the letter said.

According to it, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif himself said the PPP’s election campaign had been restricted to media advertisements. Similarly, an MQM leader has publicly stated that there appears to be a “selection instead of election”.

A source in the Presidency said a copy of the letter had also been forwarded to caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso.

The ECP responded to the Presidency’s communication on Tuesday with a four-line reply signed by an additional director general. It stated: “Necessary particulars/information regarding partisan local officials and election officers be provided to the commission as early as possible for probe into the matter and necessary action thereon.”

A few days ago President Zardari’s spokesman Farhatullah Babar also wrote a letter to the chief election commissioner urging him to order political parties to desist from targeting the president. But it was not acknowledged by the commission.

Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf accused the ECP on Wednesday of being partisan. He highlighted a number of incidents that prove the “bias of an ECP member from Punjab”.