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Tuesday, 22 January 2013

ECP stops pre-election recruitment, uplift fund diversion


ISLAMABAD: Taking notice of an alleged ‘jobs for votes’ campaign launched by some government departments ahead of polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) banned on Monday all recruitments at the federal, provincial and local government levels with immediate effect.
According to the directive, the ban will not apply to inductions made through the federal or provincial public service commissions.
The ECP also banned diversion of funds allocated for development projects and stopped the spending of the diverted funds.
The directive said different segments of the society had expressed grave concern that some government departments were in the process of inducting thousands of people to various positions which amounted to pre-poll rigging as political bribe. “…for tangible reasons the Election Commission is of the considered view that such mass recruitments at this point of time when the general elections of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies are going to take place shortly will substantially influence the results of elections. Therefore, it is imperative on all standards of legal, moral and democratic ethics that all kinds of recruitments except the recruitments which are made by the federal and provincial public service commissions be banned forthwith.”
The commission said it had considered the concern voiced by people that money allocated for important development projects was being diverted to the discretionary fund of the prime minister for development in his constituency, which was nothing short of another facet of pre-poll rigging which if not checked and brought to an immediate end was likely to influence the electoral process adversely and thus send an extremely wrong message to the public at large, making the elections tainted and falling short of constitutional provisions contained in Article 218(3).
The ECP said that in terms of Article 218 it had the constitutional duty to organise and conduct elections and to make necessary arrangements to ensure that the elections were conducted honestly, fairly and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices were stopped.
The directive said it had become imperative for the commission to take necessary steps under the law to prevent any action by the federal, provincial and local governments which amounted to influencing the results of the elections by depriving candidates of a level playing field.
The directive was issued by the ECP in exercise of powers conferred upon it under Articles 218(3) and 220 of the Constitution, Article 6 of the Election Commission Order of 2002, Sections 103(C) and 104 of the Representation of People Act, 1976.
BY-POLLS: The ECP also clarified that the schedule for by-elections for six seats of the Sindh Assembly and one of Punjab Assembly had been notified in accordance with the law.
Responding to criticism about holding the by-elections, the ECP pointed out that Article 224 (4) stated: “When, except by dissolution of the National Assembly or a provincial assembly, a general seat in any such assembly has become vacant not later than 120 days before the term of that assembly is due to expire, an election to fill the seat shall be held within 60 days of occurrence of the vacancy.”
It pointed out that six members of the Sindh Assembly — Murad Ali Shah, Sadiq Ali Memon, Abdul Moid Siddiqui, Dr Syed Mohammad Ali Shah, Askari Taqvi and Mohammad Raza Haroon — had resigned on Nov 30, 2012, while the term of the assembly would end on April 4 this year. The seats became vacant about 125 days before the expiry of the term.
Likewise, Punjab Assembly member Sardar Mohammad Khan Kichi died on Nov 27 — 131 days before the house completes its term on April 8.

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