Security concerns cause dissent between presidency and ECP

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In a confidential letter written to Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim by President Asif Ali Zardari, the latter has complained regarding the lack of proper security provisions for the three mainstream political parties which are being persistently attacked by the Taliban

According to details, the letter was written on April 30 in wake of the complaints by the PPP (Parliamentarians) about “biased attitude” of some members of the commission. The letter mentioned some incidents and expressed warned the ECP of “disturbing consequences” if the issues were not resolved.

“A steady deterioration of the law and order situation with terrorist groups attacking political parties, particularly the PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP) while some other parties have a free hand in running their election campaigns,” the letter said.

It said no measures had been taken to thwart the attempts by non-state actors against the “progressive political parties” which were being denied a level playing field. Except a few political parties in Punjab, the remaining parties in Punjab and three other provinces were facing terrorist attacks on a daily basis which had restricted their election campaigns, it added.

“The non-state actors are seeking to manipulate elections and want to doctor the election results to suit their obscurantist agenda posing a direct threat to the entire democratic process,” the letter said.

According to it, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif himself noted that PPP’s election campaign had been restricted to media advertisements. Similarly, an MQM leader has publicly stated that there appears to be a “selection instead of election”.

A source in the Presidency said a copy of the letter had also been forwarded to caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso.

The ECP responded to the Presidency’s communication on Tuesday with a four-line reply signed by an additional director general. It stated: “Necessary particulars/information regarding partisan local officials and election officers be provided to the commission as early as possible for probe into the matter and necessary action thereon.”