The Election Commission of Pakistan made several ‘irrational’ transfers and postings arbitrarily; with the most surprising among them the appointment of its librarian as local election commissioner in Jhelum. As per media reports the country’s top poll supervisory body’s new management first made the ECP central secretariat off-limit to journalists in the second week of January before undertaking a massive shakeup. In the first phase, 54 Grade-18 officers were transferred on January 18, followed by transfer of nine Grade-19 officers on January 30.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Senator Azam Swati also raised the issue of large-scale postings and transfers in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the Senate and wondered how 2018 general elections could be conducted in a free and fair manner if such controversial decisions were taken. In a statement issued on Friday evening, the ECP dodged the question of why the constitutional requirement of approval of the four ECP members was not fulfilled, saying that the postings and transfers were made “after consulting the provincial election commissioners and with the approval of the CEC.”
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has come under massive criticism since the 2013 General Elections, most prominently by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, with 2018 elections getting nearer the controversial move which saw bypassing of a constitutional requirement indeed raises some very serious questions. It can be argued that as the ECP claims the transfers were made merely for the sake of capacity building. However, even if this stance of ECP is accepted, the question still lingers whether the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) can bypass a constitutional requirement.
A constitutional requirement cannot be bypassed in any case.