ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will hold a hearing on a petition filed against the removal of Caretaker Federal Privatisation Minister Fawad Hasan Fawad today (Thursday) over his alleged political association with Pakistan Muslim League (N).

On 12 September 2023 Fawad Hasan Fawad was appointed as Minister for Privatisation and three months later, on 12 December, 2023, was given the additional portfolio of Inter-Provincial Coordina-tion (IPC).

ECP has also issued a notice to Principal Secretary to the Caretaker Prime Minister Tauqeer Shah and issued a directive for the removal of Adviser to PM on Establishment, Ahad Cheema.

Fawad Hasan Fawad served as principal secretary to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the PML-N. However, he was not a member of PDM government, unlike Ahad Cheema.

The notice of ECP came in response to a plea filed by Advocate Syed Azizuddin Kakakhel on September 29, 2023 in which the petitioner sought the removal of alleged ‘biased’ members of the federal cabinet to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections scheduled for February 8.

In his first press conference held soon after he was appointed as caretaker privatisation minister he announced that he was empowered by the previous government to continue the process of privatisation of 10 state owned entities including Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM), and power distribution companies through section 230 of Elections Act 2017.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif-led government gave additional powers to the caretaker set-up through the passage of four dozen amendments to the Elections Act 2017 despite opposition from the PTI, the JI lawmakers and PPP Senator Raza Rabbani.

The substituted clause of Section 230 reads: “Provided that sub-sections (1) and (2) shall not apply where the caretaker government has to take actions or decisions regarding existing bilateral or multilateral agreements or the projects already initiated under the Public Private Partnership Authority Act, 2017 (VIII of 2017), the Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions Act, 2022 (XXX of 2022) and the Privatisation Commission Ordinance, 2000 (LII of 2000).”

In July, the ECP had asked caretaker chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to remove ministers engaged in politics. The Secretary ECP in a letter to the caretaker CM sought the removal of caretaker ministers, advisers and special assistants for ‘political associations’. The ECP sought a report regarding participation and speech of caretaker minister Shahid Khattak in a public meeting.

The caretaker government’s tenure will run out when national elections are held and the next government formed – be it a coalition or a single party government.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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