ISLAMABAD: In its bid to ensure that free, fair, and transparent polls take place, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday ordered the removal of Adviser to the Prime Minister on Establishment Ahad Cheema from office.
Cheema is part of the caretaker government which is appointed to oversee the country’s affairs — with limited powers — till the elections, which are set to take place on February 8, 2024.
In line with the Constitution, the polling body can hire or fire any cabinet member of the interim government to ensure that free and fair elections take place. In August, it had removed several members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet for being actively involved in politics.
Advocate Syed Aziz Uddin Kaka Khel filed the petition with the ECP on September 29 against caretaker federal cabinet members Cheema and Fawad Hasan Fawad. The hearing against Fawad will take place on December 21.
“If these persons are not removed/replaced from such a key post, the very theme of the constitution and election laws will be struck down and abused,” Kaka Khel’s petition read, noting that both of them enjoyed good ties with ex-prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif.
In its order, the ECP mentioned that the petition seeking the removal of Cheema “was correct” and if he remains in office, the adviser could influence the general elections.
“Ahad Cheema was part of the previous government. The Cabinet Division should issue a notification to remove Cheema,” the commission said in its order.
In recent days, there had been confusion surrounding the elections. However, the Supreme Court has now shut all doors for delaying the general elections and the polling programme has also been released.
The commission will begin receiving nomination papers from prospective candidates tomorrow (December 20) as Pakistan approaches a crucial general election.
The process is slated to begin after the oathtaking of district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) by the electoral body as per the Elections Act 2017 today.