ISLAMABAD - Voicing concern over retaining the 'partisan' bureaucrats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the election commission has ordered immediate removal of Balochistan chief secretary and inspector generals and other top officials of both these provinces.The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has also sought explanation from the caretaker governments in the KP and Balochistan on their non-compliance with the earlier ECP instructions regarding administrative reshuffle.In separate letters reportedly sent to the two provincial governments late night on Friday, the electoral body expressed its concern over retaining some top administrative officials who are believed to be partisan and have alleged connections with the mainstream political parties, which is likely to cast a negative influence on the general elections.In another letter sent by the ECP Director General (Elections) Syed Sher Afgan to Establishment Secretary Taimur Azmat Usman, the former has referred to a telephonic conversation that took place on Thursday between ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan and the establishment secretary regarding replacement of KP IGP Akbar Khan Hoti "on ground that six of his cousins are contesting in the general elections"."In this backdrop, I have been directed to request you to kindly issue necessary directions for immediate replacement of the inspector general (police) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a suitable person of established neutrality. For the purpose, Khalid Masood, Additional Inspector General (Police) KP must be considered keeping in view his seniority and reputation. A compliance report in this regard may be sent to this office within three days for placing the same before the election commission," Afgan wrote.Other officials whose replacement is reportedly sought by the ECP, in the separate letters, include, Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, Home Secretary Akbar Durrani and IGP Mushtaq Sukhera; and KP Establishment Secretary Arbab Arif, Home Secretary Azam Khan, Commissioner Hazara Division Khalid Khan Umerzai and Hazara Division DIG Dr Naeem Khan.Akbar Hoti, Khalid Umerzai and Dr Naeem are known to be close relatives of the former KP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti. Several members of their family are set to contest the upcoming general elections.When approached Friday afternoon, KP IGP Akbar Hoti expressed ignorance towards the ECP orders for his removal. "I haven't received any such orders. Anything in this regard has not been verbally or officially communicated to me." Regarding his political affiliation, Hoti said, "Everyone has family affiliations. I can't change my family or history but I never let my personal association come in my profession's way. My integrity and uprightness is known to all."Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh refused to comment on the issue while Balochistan IGP Mushtaq Sukhera asked this scribe on Friday evening to call after two hours. He was not available for comments later. Babar Yaqoob was appointed by the former government as Punjab chief secretary and is said to have close association with the leadership of Pakistan People's Party-Parliamentarians. The former Balochistan CM Aslam Raisani had removed Babar but he was restored later, last month.IGP Mushtaq Sukhera reportedly enjoys close links with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leadership. Before becoming Balochistan top cop, he held key positions in Punjab. He was brought to Balochistan against the backdrop of his known links with and 'soft corner' for extremist organisations, which, the former government gurus believed, would help 'persuade' the banned militant outfits like Lahskar-i-Jhangvi to stop waging fatal attacks on Shia community in Balochistan.On April 2, the ECP had directed reshuffling the federal and provincial secretaries across the country ahead of the general elections except in such cases where the caretaker government considered a federal or provincial secretary needed not to be transferred, while asking the respective governments to intimate such cases to the electoral body.With the exception of Punjab, the caretaker governments in Sindh, Balochistan KP and centre are yet to fully comply with the electoral body's instructions. On Thursday, the ECP had ordered removal of the Sindh Chief Secretary Raja Abbas and 64 other senior provincial officials. Up till Friday, the Sindh caretaker government had not removed the chief secretary while certain other positions were reshuffled.

Published in The Nation newspaper on 13-Apr-2013