ISLAMABAD - Central Information Secretary Shireen Mazari on behalf of PTI expressed serious concern over the manner in which a presently headless Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is working more as a loyal government department rather than an independent body which it is supposed to be. “We have found the ECP to be fully complicit in furthering biased and questionable elections and bye-elections as starkly reflected in the recent Haripur and Khushab bye-elections,” she further added. In Khushab the polling was extended by an hour when neither the candidates nor the returning officers had so requested. Equally disturbing, the election tribunals are also showing an obvious bias by so far not properly hearing 64 of PTI petitions. Again, where petitions are being decided, they are being decided in clear violation of ECP and Tribunal rules.In addition, the following reflects the absurdity of the way petitions are being dealt with. For instance: NA-58 Malik Intakhab still on stay order, NA-154 Sadiq Baloch on stay order, NA-57 Sheikh Aftab on stay order, NA-122 Sardar Ayaz Sadiq on stay order, NA-125 Saad Rafique on stay order and NA-110 Khawja Asif still on stay order. Mazari stated the ECP is making a mockery of the notion of fair and free elections and PTI fears this bodes ill for the future of democracy.Similarly, PTI MNA Asad Umar stated that the resignation of the governor state bank under alleged political pressure from the government raises very serious concerns. According to him, it is indicative of an attempt by the govt to subvert the independence of the state bank and the govt’s intent to use the banking system for political gain.Asad Umar in a statement issued on Friday said the resignation of the state bank governor in the context ofa situation where critical regulatory bodies like NEPRA, SECP and CCP are without full time chairmen should be of grave concern to those who have any interest in or care for the economy of Pakistan. This shows the disdain of the current govt for any regulatory oversight of the economy.Asad Umar felt that powerful independent regulatory agencies are essential to safeguard the interest of citizens and protect them from being exploited by unscrupulous elements. The deliberate attempt by the govt to weaken regulatory authorities is yet another proof that this govt is only interested in protecting and promoting the interests of powerful lobbies rather than welfare of the people of Pakistan.Asad Umar demanded that the govt must ensure that the nomination of the new governor state bank is seen as being done on merit and the position is not filled by anyone who is considered to be close to the ruling party or the prime ministers family. This crucial position must be filled by someone who is seen as experienced, professional and independent.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 01-Feb-2014 here.