ECP faces internal strife over reshuffle

Notification apparently approved without consultation


Irfan Ghauri January 24, 2016
Election Commission of Pakistan. PHOTO ECP.GOV.PK

ISLAMABAD:


A large-scale, ‘arbitrary’ reshuffle in the country’s top polling supervisory body is likely to lead to more bickering in the organisation that is already mired in controversies.


Earlier this week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) notified reshuffle of 54 of its Grade-18 officers in the first phase of transfers. The notification was approved only by the chief election commissioner (CEC), apparently without any input from four other members of the body.

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Sources in the ECP told The Express Tribune that the top management of the organisation was planning to continue reshuffling in phases.

After the 18th constitutional amendment, the nomenclature of the ECP was changed and the powers of the CEC were transferred to the polling body comprising the commissioner and four members, each representing a province.

Every important decision has to be taken by the ECP as a whole. Similarly, all consequent notifications are approved by the body. However, the January 19 notification of transferring 54 officers reads ‘with the approval of the CEC’.

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Many within the ECP see it as an arbitrary decision by, what they say, a clique within the polling body. “No criterion was laid down in these transfers,” claimed an ECP official. “We have been told that the only criterion is: those working at one station for more than three years have been transferred to another place — without taking into account their utility at the new posting.”

CEC Justice (redt) Sardar Raza assumed charge of his office in December 2014, followed by the appointment of the new secretary in April 2015. After these two top appointments in the ECP, two other key officers were hired from different government organisations.

A grade-21 officer in the Audit and Accounts Department was transferred to the polling body as additional secretary. Similarly, a retired brigadier was appointed as director general of administration.

The new additional secretary has been given the charge of administration, budget and election matters. These appointments in the ECP, especially all the administrative powers vested in the newly-appointed officials, are causing a silent unrest within the organisation.

The officials working in the ECP bureaucracy construed the move as one that sidelines them. The original bureaucracy of the body views it with a different angle — an attempt by the top management to take full control over the matters and have their own people in place well before the 2018 general elections.

“It is unprecedented for any organisation to transfer this number of officers in one go,” said an ECP officer. “We have been hearing that more such steps are on the cards in the next phases. This happens only in the army, where after three years’ tenure at one station an official is posted to another station.”

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He said many of the grade-18 officers who have been transferred have vast experience of working in the headquarters in specified fields, adding that the top management seeks to appoint people of their choice on their posts.

“Most of these officers working as deputy directors in different disciplines have been transferred to different districts as district election commissioners — a post that hardly requires any specialty. Most of the work in the district is done by grade-17 district officers.”

Already under fire by opposition parties, the ECP is likely to face more criticism when the internal strife within the organisation pours out into the public, said another official.


Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2016.

COMMENTS (1)

sheraz | 6 years ago | Reply Good work ECP!
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