Former Special Assistant to the Chief Minister of Punjab on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday said that a report presented by an Election Commission official on the manner in which the Daska by-elections were held is being “distorted”.

Addressing a press conference, Awan said that PTI candidates from Daska had taken the report to the Supreme Court.

“We have spoken about hundreds of petitions related to returning officer’s (RO) and District Returning Officers (DRO); our concerns about these officers were valid,” she said.

An inquiry report issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan, which was reported on a day earlier, determined that the NA-75 Sialkot-IV by-election held in Daska on February 19 was not held in a fair, free, and transparent manner.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Awan said that the matter regarding the abduction of the presiding officers was “not clear”. She insisted that the government has “no soft corner” for anyone regarding the Daska election.

Awan’s name was included in the fact-finding report. According to the report, of the staff employed for election duty from the education department, Muhammad Iqbal Kaloya, Deputy Director (Colleges), Sialkot, was found involved in attending meetings at AC House, Daska, “which were meant for manipulating the election process”, in which Ali Abbas, Zeeshan Javed, Asif Hussain, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Muhammad Awais, and some other persons were present.

ECP’s inquiry report

The report stated that the election officials and other government functionaries “did not play their designated role in a requisite manner [and] they were found puppets in the hands of their unlawful masters”.

The fact-finding team gathered details from official records obtained from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Islamabad; Intelligence Bureau, Islamabad; District Police, Sialkot; Elite Police Force; written statements and supplementary question and answer sessions of the presiding officers (POs), senior assistant presiding officers, naib qasids, drivers, and police personnel, etc, the report said.

Role of education department

Of the staff employed for election duty from the education department, Muhammad Iqbal Kaloya, Deputy Director (Colleges), Sialkot, was found involved in attending meetings at AC House, Daska, “which were meant for manipulating the election process”, in which Ali Abbas, Zeeshan Javed, Asif Hussain, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Muhammad Awais, and some other persons were present.

According to the report, he had “illegally summoned the POs in the office of Nawaz Cheema, Principal, Government Degree College for Boys, Daska, to pass on the following directions”.

  • Slow down the voting process;
  • Voting should not increase above 25% in Daska city area;
  • Don’t interfere in the doings of the district administration and police and whatever they want to do, let them do it;
  • Close the polling station at 4:30pm with the help of police;
  • Cooperate with the district administration; and
  • Return to the RO office as early as possible.

Furthermore, Akbar Ghumman, Deputy District Education Officer (Secondary), Sialkot, was found “misguiding” the POs, while Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Deputy District Education Officer, Daska, was found in an audio recording of using “filthy language which shows his concerns about the inquiry proceedings”, the report said.

Presiding officers ‘remained at unknown building for more than seven hours’

According to the report, the 20 POs who remained missing after polling concluded, “under some planned scheme” left their respective polling stations in private vehicles and reached Sialkot by staying first at PS Qila Kalar Wala/PS Satra, office of the DSP, Pasrur and Mundeke etc., after nearly 8:30pm.

It said that they remained at “some unknown building” situated at Shahabpura/Ugoke Road near Zohra Hospital “for more than seven hours” and after that, they were transported with police security to the office of the returning officer at Jaisarwala.

“Before reaching their destination, all the POs were shifted in police vans from Toyota Hiace and finally they reached the returning officer’s (RO) office,” the report said.

“Among the above said 20 POs, two female POs were also included. One of that two female POs somehow managed to submit the original result of the polling however, about the other female PO, an embarrassing and ridiculous fact was disclosed that she was mistreated severely at the suspicious place,” the report further reveals.

It said that during the inquiry proceedings, it was also revealed that Deputy District Education Officer (Female), Daska, managed a meeting of her subordinate Assistant Education Officers (AEOs)/POs with Asif Hussain, Assistant Commissioner, Daska, and Zulfiqar Virk, DSP Sambrial, at her home wherein the participants were “instructed to favour the government in the said by-elections, allow the voters to cast their votes on copies of CNIC, act upon the guidelines received from DDEO (F), Daska, during polling and not to bother about the law and order situation if it turned untoward”.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here