Mysterious role of bureaucrats in Daska Election | By Kanwar M Dilshad

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Mysterious role of bureaucrats in Daska Election

IT IS generally perceived that democracy is the panacea for all evils of governance.

The Pakistani nation has also been running after democracy for more than seven decades but has unfortunately arrived nowhere.

We have never had good democracy in Pakistan. It is completely wrong if we think that those who sit in Parliament are truly the public representatives.

In fact, they represent the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie in whose hands the entire wealth is concentrated.

Now we come to Daska episode, an inquiry report exposing those responsible for the episode of 20 presiding officers disappearance during the February by election in Daska has found that election officials and government functionaries acted as puppets in the hands of their unlawful masters.

As per inquiry report they did not play their designated roles in the requisite manner but also identified Sialkot Colleges Deputy Director for his involvement in the meetings at Daska Assistant Commissioner House, which were meant for manipulating the election process.

Former Special Assistant to the Chief Minister of Punjab Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Ali Abbas Deputy Secretary to Chief Minister, Zeeshan Javed, Asif Hussain, Muhammad Awais and some other officers attended the meetings.

The fact finding inquiry report was launched after the Daska by-poll was marred by rigging, violence and disappearance of 20 presiding officers.

The Election Commission of Pakistan subsequently withheld the results and ordered re-election in NA-75 constituency as per Section 9 of Election Act 2017.

Deputy Director Sialkot Colleges, the report indicated, illegally summoned the presiding officers to the office of Nawaz Cheema, the Principal of the Government Degree College for Boys, Daska to pass on directives to slow down the voting process to keep it blow 25 percent in the Daska city area, and not to interfere in what is done by the district administration and police, according to inquiry report.

The report found police officers and officials played an absurd role in the by-election. It not only identified their failure in providing protection to the staff and to the poling material, but also questioned if the police conspired, maligned and consequently annulled the whole by-election.

After an anylisis of various statements of the inquiry proceedings, it could be induced that the police were either under the influence of a constant force that guided them or they deliberately remained blind to whatever was happening around them.

The report stated that circumstantial evidences, written statements of some presiding officers, assistant presiding officers, most of the drivers, very few of the police officials and call detail record data from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority clearly proved that the aforesaid presiding officers under some planned scheme left their respective polling stations in private vehicles and reached Sialkot by staying first at the police stations Qila Kalar Wala/Stara, office of the DSP, Pasrur and Mundeke after nearly 8 30 pm. They remained at some unknown building situated at Shahalbpura.

Ugoke Road near Zohra Hospital for more than seven hours and after that they were transported under police security to office of the Returning officer at Jalsarwala.

Before reaching their destination, all the presiding officers were shifted in police vans and finally they reached the Returning officer office.

It referred to geo coordinate mapping from the Returning Officer office to the polling station and back, based the CDR data provided by the PTA, to state that all the 20 presiding officers deviated from their actual route to reach their respective polling stations from the Returning officer office on February 18 and took the Pasrur-Sialkot Road.

The inquiry report found the presiding officers and some officers of the education department were fully involved in jeopardising the fair, free and transparent election due to the reasons best known to them though the element of monitory benefits at different stages could not be ruled out..

This was a dangerous step taken by the bureaucracy posted in Sialkot and Gujranwala. They are guilty of the offence of corrupt practice involving bribery, personation, exercising under influence as per section 167 to 174 of Elections Act 2017.

Election Commission of Pakistan has fully empowered to dismiss the culprits or as per section 188 may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and side by side Election Commission of Pakistan can take action as per section 232 of Elections Act 2017 on account of offences in order to guard corrupt practice and to maintain neutrality and impartiality.

—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.

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