Member’s travel abroad didn’t entail any illegality: ECP

WEB DESK : The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday reviewed some media reports claiming that Member Sindh Abdul Ghaffar Soomro travelled abroad while his name has not been removed from the Exit Control List (ECL) by the Ministry of Interior.

Some media reports suggested that both the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were investigating the Member Sindh in a controversial land deal involving the Evacuee Trust Property Board and Defence Housing Authority, Lahore. However, the Member was given one-time permission by the government to go abroad.

Soomro was accompanied by Chief Election Commissioner former Justice Sardar Raza Khan, Member ECP Punjab Altaf Qureshi and Election Commissioner Pishin district Abdul Waheed. The four-member delegation was going to observe the US presidential elections.

Contesting media reports, the ECP stated that the direction of the Lahore High Court is pending with the Interior Division for implementation. The member’s travel abroad did not entail any illegality as he was duly granted waiver by the competent authority. Apparently, a bid has been made to malign the credentials of the member in a case, in which he stands acquitted.

The member throughout his public service has enjoyed reputation of integrity and fairness. Any undue insinuation and allegation is strongly rebutted. In a statement, the ECP said it is in the fitness of things to mention here that the Special Judge (Central) Lahore has already acquitted the Member Sindh on October 15, 2015 stating:

“Apart from that even already some of the petitioners/accused namely Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and Syed Tahir Ali Shah have since retired and Qasim Ali, petitioner/accused, has become incapacitated, while the 8 remaining petitioners/accused being still in service are suffering the agony of appearance in this case sans any conceivable incriminating material against them.

Therefore, I do see no reason to prolong their agony merely for some misplaced whims and conjectures about their any dishonest role in the crime. Hence, seeing no legally entertainable incriminating material against the petitioner/accused, all the applications in hand are accepted and the petitioners/accused are acquitted under section 249-A CrPC from this case.”

In another case, the Lahore High Court, in its judgement dated October 25, 2016 has passed the orders: “Admittedly, neither judgement passed by the Special Court has been suspended in appeal nor order has been passed by any court to retain the petitioner’s name on the ECL.

Mere filing of an appeal does not deprive the petitioners of their fundamental rights of freedom guaranteed under the Constitution. For reason recorded above, these petitioners are allowed. Accordingly respondents are directed to remove the names of petitioners from the ECL forthwith.”

Source : Business Recorder