Islamabad: Case against Waheeda Shah registered
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday withheld the official result of PS-53, Tando Muhammad Khan till the investigation into the slapping of election staff by a PPP candidate, Waheeda Shah, was completed after ordering registration of an FIR against her.
The Chief Election Commissioner Justice (Retd), Hamid Ali Mirza, made it clear that no one would be allowed to threaten or use force against the polling staff whose services are hired by the Election Commission of Pakistan in connection with election duties and, therefore, the Commission will take all possible steps to provide protection to the polling staff and take exemplary action under the law against anyone who indulges in any illegal activities to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere at the polling stations. The electoral body also directed the Inspector General of Police, Sindh, to proceed against the senior police officials who were present at the time of Waheeda’s violence against a presiding officer and assistant presiding officer on polling day at the polling station.
The Chief Election Commissioner and four ECP members expressed concern and disappointment over the failure of police personnel present on the occasion to prevent the sorry incident, which triggered countrywide anger and resentment.
On the complaint received from Mir Mushtaq Ali Talpur, another contesting candidate for the by-election of PS-53, Tando Muhammad Khan, the Election Commission also issued notices to all the parties to appear before the full commission on March 6.
The electoral body is taking this matter of public slapping of its staff as a test case to prevent such happenings in the future by ensuring due punishment to the PPP candidate and would also see to it that police officers were also subjected to disciplinary action for overlooking Waheeda’s slapping of two female staffers of the Election Commission.
The Returning Officer for PS-53 Ali Asghar Sial has been directed to take immediate cognisance of the matter under section 86A of the Representation of People Act, 1976 and all other enabling provisions, for alleged violation of the provision of section 86, hold an inquiry (summary trial), hear the necessary parties and pass the orders. The inquiry should be conducted at the office of the Provincial Election Commissioner, Sindh, within a minimum possible time, not exceeding seven days at the maximum.
A press release issued by the ECP Secretariat noted the slapping incident at polling station No.16 Government Girls High School, Tando Muhammad Khan by the contesting candidate Syeda Waheeda Shah on February 25. The incident shocked the whole nation and has also been viewed very seriously by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The electoral body not only has condemned the unruly behaviour of a personnel aspiring to represent the people in parliament, but on receipt of a report from the Provincial Election Commissioner, Sindh, the commission has taken some key decisions in this connection. Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Additional Secretary General Saifullah Khan Niazi has strongly condemned violence and use of weapons, particularly the slapping by Waheeda Shah of the PPP of the women polling staff of the Election Commission.
Niazi on Monday also denounced the ‘massive rigging and wide range of irregularities’ in the country’s by-election and claimed that it had vindicated the PTI’s stance that no fair and free elections were possible under the current corrupt set up and without an independent election commission.
He noted in a press release that the low turn-out was yet another proof that the masses were fed up with the two political parties ruling in the Centre and Punjab.
INP adds: A case of torturing polling staff has been registered against newly-elected PPP MPA Waheeda Shah.
Waheeda slapped the Presiding Officer and Assistant Presiding Officer at a polling station in PS-53 Tando Muhammad Khan-cum-Hyderabad, and later admitted her mistake only after TV channels aired her footage.
Meanwhile, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain strongly condemning torture on the woman assistant presiding officer during by-polls, has appealed the authorities concerned to take notice of the sad incident.
In a statement issued from London, Altaf termed the torture on woman assistant presiding officer by a female candidate of well-known political party as being ‘most unfortunate.’
He urged the federal government as well as the chief Election Commissioner to take notice of the incident and bring the responsible to book.
Our correspondent from Lahore adds: Meanwhile, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed shock and alarm at the deviations from normal sensible behaviour that were witnessed during by-elections held in ten constituencies on Sunday. The HRCP commented that events that took place during the by-elections had pointed to the dangers that could haunt us in the general election. These include preventing women from voting under agreement or otherwise, violence upon polling staff, unrestricted display of firearms and firing around polling booths and employment of police personnel for interference in legitimate balloting.
The HRCP maintained that all these events reported during this limited exercise must be thoroughly probed. The remedy lies not only with the Election Commission — although it has the first responsibility in the presence of abundant evidence of the infractions — yet also with the government and the political parties and above all with the people who have to demonstrate responsibility and commitment to the democratic principle rather than to petty interests or clan loyalty.