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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has recommended disciplinary action against 60 officials for their involvement in ‘foul play’ in by-polls of the National Assembly’s constituency NA-75 Daska (Sialkot) held in February last year.

The officials against whom action has been recommended include former district returning officer (DRO) NA-75 Abid Hussain, former returning officer (RO) NA-75 Athar Abbasi, former district police officer (DPO) Sialkot Hassan Asad Alvi, former deputy commissioner Sialkot Zeeshan Javed Lashari, former assistant commissioner Daska Asif Hussain, former deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Sambrial Zulfiqar Virk, former DSP Daska Ramzan Kamboh, and others.

Some 27 presiding officers, seven station house officers (SHOs), and others are also among the officials against whom action has been recommended, Business Recorder has learnt.

The ECP has asked the Punjab government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against these officials and share compliance report with the electoral body, informed ECP officials.

NA-75 by-poll was held on February 19, last year, which saw serious allegations of massive rigging after some 20 presiding officers “mysteriously disappeared” during the votes counting.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Ali Asjad Malhi and Nosheen Iftikhar from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) were main candidates for the by-poll in the said constituency. The two inquiries by the ECP found senior PTI leaders including Firdous Ashiq Awan and government officers/ officials instrumental in NA-75 rigging.

On February 25 last year, the ECP announced to hold re-polling at the entire NA-75 Sialkot-IV on March 18 after the electoral body declared the result of by-election as “null and void”. The PTI moved Supreme Court against the ECP’s decision.

The apex court turned down the ruling party’s petition against by-poll in the entire NA-75— and by-election was finally held on April 10, wherein, the PML-N candidate emerged victorious.

The commission, at that time, ordered the Punjab government that the then Commissioner Gujranwala Division Syed Gulzar Hussain Shah and the then Regional Police Officer (RPO) Gujranwala Region Riaz Nazir Gara be transferred from Gujranwala and posted outside this division.

The commission also ordered that DC Sialkot, DPO Sialkot, AC Daska, DSP Sambrial, and DSP Daska be suspended with immediate effect and should not be assigned any election duty in future.

The ECP, at that time, said that it would decide later whether it should directly hold inquiry against all these officers or direct provincial government to launch the related inquiry.

On November 8 last year, the ECP announced to launch either “departmental proceedings or criminal proceedings or both” against all those government officers/ officials who were found guilty of foul play in NA-75 by-election.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

ECP

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