ISLAMABAD - Former President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday said it seemed the Election Commission of Pakistan’s strings were being pulled from ‘unconcerned quarters.’

On Wednesday, the ECP postponed the Local Governments elections in 81 union councils (UCs) of Sindh hours before the November 19 vote.

Secretary ECP Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammed said polls have been postponed in Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar, Mirpurkhas, Badin, Tharparkar, Nawab Shah, Jamshoro and Noshehro Fairoz districts.

He said the ECP was following the Supreme Court’s decision of upholding the Sindh High Court verdict regarding suspension of recently carried out delimitation.

Election in these areas will now be held after the third phase – scheduled for December 5. Polling in Sanghar already stands deferred due to security reasons.

Zardari, the PPP co-Chairman, said the postponement of LG elections in 81 Union Councils of Sindh was tantamount to depriving his party of its rights.

He said the changing of 22 polling stations in Badin at the last minute was “an attempt to rescue some political orphans from defeat.”

In a statement, the PPP leader said it seemed that the ECP’s strings were being pulled from ‘unconcerned quarters’. However, he did not elaborate these quarters.

The former President said that the PPP-led Sindh government had provided all possible facilities to conduct fair, transparent and independent elections.

He claimed that through legislation the PPP government had given the ECP complete autonomy. “The Election Commission should use its authority instead of succumbing to external pressure,” he said. Zardari’s son - PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari - called the announcement an “extremely controversial decision” in a message posted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, PPP leader Senator Rehman Malik visited French Embassy in Islamabad offering his and his party’s leadership condolences with French ambassador on the terror attacks in Paris.

In the meeting with French ambassador Martine Dorance, Senator Malik expressed sympathies with the people of France on the Paris tragedy.

He said the PPP, its co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemn the terror attacks and stand fully with the people of France in this difficult time.

“We are deeply aggrieved over the loss of precious human lives and no words are enough to condemn this brutal and inhuman act of barbarism,” he said. He said that terrorists have no religion and ethics as they are enemies of mankind. They are a common enemy and it is the need of the hour to stand united against it.

EC MEMBERS SHOULD QUIT: KHURSHID

INP adds: Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah has said the Election Commission of Pakistan has become controversial after its failure in ensuring transparent local bodies (LB) election and demanded members of EC to quit, admitting their failure.

Talking to mediamen in his chamber at the parliament, Khurshid said after issuing schedule of polls, EC was not authorised to follow directives of any institution and it bring about changes in 22 polling stations of Badin on Wednesday-Thursday due to which thousands of voters had to face severe problems while election in 82 UCs of Sindh were postponed owing to different reasons which was against code of conduct.

He said PPP held in high regard decisions of Sindh High Court (SHC) but its decision regarding changing of polling stations and deferring of elections in dozens of UCs was against the code of conduct of EC as any such decision was not applicable after issuance of election schedule.

He said, “We have nominated former CJ Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani for Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) slot but after objects raised by PTI chief Imran over his nomination, he (Justice Tassaduq) himself refused to take over the charge of the position saying his carrier is impeccable and he don’t want to make his personality controversial.”

The opposition leader alleged that chairman PTI was also taking advantage of the alleged controversial character the EC members has become habitual of raising hue and cry of rigging after every poll.

Khurshid Shah expressed dissatisfaction over the steps taken by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial and federal governments for the earthquake affectees’ relief, saying thousands of people of the quake hit areas were still forced to lead life under an open sky lacking basic facilities due to apathy of the governments and authorities concerned. He said that 20,000 houses were completely destroyed while 80,000 partially damaged in the recent earthquake. He said he has visited the quake affected areas and collected first hand information of the affectees. More casualties were feared if immediate steps were not taken to facilitate quake hit population, he warned.

He said the government’s response over the ISPR’s press release created misunderstanding and confusion, advising the military leadership to be careful in this regard, adding the government should not have to respond in this way keeping in view the regional and global situation as any controversy could harm Pakistan’s interests. The Opposition leader also criticised the statement of MNA Mehmood Khan Achakzai for his sarcastic remarks on the ISPR press release issue at the floor of the house.