ISLAMABAD - A senior government official, who was appointed by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as Returning Officer (RO) for Nowshera district, lost his job for abandoning his actual task by leaving for Saudi Arabia for performing Umra.

The ECP on Thursday summoned three senior government officials for explaining reasons why they are not performing their job as ROs at a time when nomination papers are filed by aspirants in KP ahead of the LB polls scheduled for May 30.

The ECP members including Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retired) Sardar Raza Khan was stunned when they knew that one of the ROs Zahir Shah has left for performing Umra who will return on May 18.

Two of three ROs work as senior officers (executive engineers) in Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) and one is executive engineer in Sui Northern Gas Pipeline (SNGPL).

This is for the first time in electoral history of ECP that the commission directly suspended the top officers (ROs) for not performing their jobs and was asked on Thursday to appear before the commission on May 22.

“He is supposed to perform his job as Returning Officer and he has left for performing Umra at a time when candidates are filing nomination papers. He should not be spared,” a source privy to the meeting at ECP quoted CEC as saying when he was told that the RO has left for Saudi Arabia for Umra.

Interestingly, ECP has been flooded with complaints against ROs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who are being accused of showing slackness in doing their actual jobs. “They (the officers) are now under the supervision of ECP and not under their parent departments,” a ECP official said.

Recently, the ECP suspended Deputy PO Master General who was appointed as RO for D I Khan on the grounds that he would give more time to his parent department than sparing time for entertaining election-related cases.

Under article 220 of the constitution, the federal and provincial governments are required to put its officers at the disposal of ECP during elections. In case ECP is not satisfied with the performance of the officers, parents departments can be asked to take disciplinary action against them.

But ECP has amended rules according to which it can directly take action against any officer who is put under its disposal as RO or DRO and this is for the first time that the commission showed the doors to lazy officers.

According to ECP officials, the officers if proved guilty could lose their jobs, face compulsory retirements, demotions or lose increments adding that the CEC has vowed to deal hard with those who hesitate in dispensation of their duties.