ISLAMABAD: In a rare development, the Lahore High Court registrar has forwarded a letter from a judge to the chief election commissioner for action over a ‘derogatory’ letter sent by a military man to district returning officers and returning officers, asking them to attend a conference on the upcoming general elections at a military camp in Kasur.
The letter to Registrar Bahadar Ali Khan was written by District and Sessions Judge Kasur Sardar Tahir Sabir on June 25. It was forwarded to CEC Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza on June 26 by the registrar and received by the Election Commission of Pakistan on June 30, sources confirmed to The Express Tribune.
“I am directed to refer to letter — received from the district and sessions judge, Kasur, along with the letter — addressed to the Election Commission of Pakistan Kasur district by Acting Commanding Officer Major Murtaza Ahmed, Abdul Majeed Axe Camp Kasur — to say that in terms of Article 175 of the Constitution, the judiciary is a separate organ of state insofar as the two other organs viz: legislature and executive.
“Sub-clause 3 of said Article provides separation of the judiciary from the executive, meaning thereby, the constitutional provisions stipulate independence of the judiciary in an explicit and discernible manner. Therefore, the derogatory directions issued to DROs and ROs by the above-mentioned acting commanding officer to attend the conference at Abdul Majeed Axe Camp Kasur regarding the general elections 2018 cannot be countenanced in view of the above-mentioned provisions of the Constitution as on the request of the Election Commission of Pakistan this court placed the judicial officers at your disposal for their appointments as DROs and ROs for holding free and fair general elections 2018,” the letter from the LHC registrar to the CEC reads.
“The matter was placed before the honourable chief justice and his lordship has been pleased to direct to forward a copy of the above-referred letter to you for further action/steps,” the letter says.
In another development, the election commission has taken stock of the failure of the caretaker government in Punjab in ensuring adequate security measures and directed the provincial government to play its role for the conduct of free and fair elections.
“It appears, unfortunately, that the authorities concerned have yet to take the bull by the horns,” a letter from ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad to Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Dr Hasan Askari said on Sunday.
It referred to media reports, suggesting candidates have been harassed and physically threatened at various places. “Incidents like those in Multan and Narowal require immediate corrective measures,” the letter says.
The ECP secretary, in the letter, also referred to the presentation he made during a meeting chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk on June 25 in connection with the general elections scheduled for July 25.
“In the said presentation, the participants were specifically made aware of the threat to political leaders and contesting candidates,” the letter reads.
All the four provincial chief ministers, chief secretaries, inspector generals of police, interim federal ministers and secretary interior were present during the presentation.
The letter was written a day after PML-N candidate for the Punjab Assembly’s seat (PP-219) from Multan Rana Iqbal Siraj alleged on Saturday that intelligence officials raided his warehouse and manhandled him.
This followed a media talk by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in London in which he accused an intelligence agency of repeatedly calling Siraj at his office in Multan and pressuring him to change loyalties. He said other PML-N candidates were also under immense pressure to withdraw their PML-N candidatures for general polls.
But, in another twist to this episode, Siraj later issued a televised statement on Saturday, saying his warehouse was raided by the Agriculture Department and his accusations about intelligence agencies were the “result of a misunderstanding”.
The ECP secretary’s letter to the caretaker Punjab CM says, under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, it is the duty of the ECP to organise and conduct elections honestly, justly and fairly.
The said the constitutional mandate can be achieved only in a conducive law and order environment, it adds.
“I have been, therefore, directed in the spirit of Article 220 to enjoin, through you, the police and the administration not to rest on their oars till the task of a fair and free election is achieved.”