LAHORE - Sweets were distributed yesterday in Okara police stations after brother of the Punjab Inspector General of Police became unopposed Chairman of a Baseerpur Union Council.

No one dared to contest polls against Ejaz Sukhera, brother of Mushtaq Sukhera who happens to be the powerful Punjab police chief. Therefore, Sukhera was declared as unopposed winner.

As the villagers celebrated unopposed victory of their leader, Ejaz Sukhera, the Okara cops distributed sweets among colleagues in Baseerpur, Depalpur, and Hujra Shah Muqeem police stations. However, a district government official told The Nation the policemen celebrated the victory due to their close association with Ejaz Sukhera.

He ruled out the doubts that the district administration and police played any role in the elections that are scheduled to be held in phases by the end of October.

“The reports that nobody challenged the police chief’s brother in the upcoming polls due to police pressure are totally baseless,” he said. “How can police press anyone when there is no other candidate against Sukhera in the field?”

Though the Punjab police spokesperson did not confirm that Mr Ejaz Sukhera is the real brother of IGP Mushtaq Sukhera, the police sources endorsed the reports.

Another senior official at the central police office said, “The IGP never intervenes in political affairs. Even the close relatives of Mr Sukhera have to follow a proper procedure when they visit his office.” “Anybody, even a relative of an officer, if contests election in own capacity, it cannot be taken wrong. Everyone has the right to contest polls,” a provincial government official said.

However, interestingly, Ejaz Sukhera has been elected unopposed as Chairman UC-135 on the ticket of PML-N.

“Actually, no villager can even think of challenging a Thanedar (a police official of the rank of a sub-inspector). How anyone can dare brother of the chief of the powerful police,” said Mumtaz Bhatti, a political worker in Okara district.

Last week, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf suffered a major blow as its three candidates for union council chairman and vice-chairman slots `withdrew’ their nomination papers allegedly under police pressure.

PML-N’s Khwaja Ahmad Hassaan and Jaffar Husain were elected unopposed as UC-107 chairman and vice-chairman, respectively. Similarly, PML-N’s Haji Jamil won UC-263 chairman slot following withdrawal of nomination papers by PTI’s Malik Sajjad.

The picture surfaced in the national media, showing officers including SP CIA Umer Virk, DIG Shafiq Gujjar and SSP Suhail Sukhera with the PTI candidates taking oath on Quran for withdrawing their candidature in favour of the PML-N runner, also raised many eyebrows.

PTI alleges coercion by PML-N as both the candidates were allegedly pressurised to sign their nomination withdrawal papers. Eventually their papers were withdrawn without their personal appearance before the returning officer.

However, the SP CIA claims the picture shown on TV channels was taken on the event of a truce meeting between the two warring parties and had no connection with the UC elections.

Shafqat Mehmood, the PTI Lahore organiser, said the media was showing everything relating to the UC elections. “SP CIA Umer Virk, DIG Shafiq Gujjar and SSP Suhail Sukhera can be seen in the picture taking oath from his party candidates,” he said.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has directed IGP Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera “to seek explanation of the said police officers who have allegedly played a role in the withdrawal of candidature” as per media reports and report back to the Commission within 48 hours.

According to the ECP Letter, “This is with reference to media reports wherein serious allegations have been levelled against senior officers of Punjab police relating to use of coercive methods for withdrawal of candidature of different candidates of Lahore district in Local Government Elections.”

This alleged act is tantamount to sabotage the constitutional sanctity attached with conduct of elections, says the letter.

The day Mr Sukhera had taken over the charge of the most powerful post in Punjab last year, 14 protesters of Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) were shot dead by the Lahore police while 85 others wounded during a clash in Model Town.

The leaders of Pakistan Awami Tehrik accused Mr Sukhera for becoming a stooge of the ruling party on several occasions. PTI Chief Imran Khan had also come hard on Sukhera during his sit-ins last year, warning the IGP not to accept what he called “illegal orders” of the ruling PML-N.