Election Commissioner of Sindh transferred
By: Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: As the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) gets ready to redefine limits of constituencies in Karachi and again verify the city’s voter lists, the Sindh Election Commissioner, Sonu Khan Baloch, has been removed from his position.
Instead, he has been appointed as the director general (budget) at the ECP headquarters.
“This is not a routine transfer and has been necessitated by the demand of various political parties that see him as the key player behind the ‘systematic disenfranchisement’ of voters in Karachi,” official sources told Dawn.
They said that political parties held the provincial election commissioner responsible for ‘deliberate flaws’ in the voter lists due to which many people settled in Karachi for years had been transferred to addresses outside the metropolis.
“In view of the allegations, the Chief Election Commissioner and members of the commission felt that it was not appropriate at this crucial juncture to keep him posted in Karachi,” a source said.
The source said a summary for the appointment of a new Election Commissioner for Sindh had been submitted to the ECP, along with a list of officers who could be appointed to the position. He said the commission was likely to take a decision on the matter in the next few days.
Talking to Dawn by phone, Mr Baloch confirmed that he had been transferred, but denied manipulating the voter lists. He said he would assume the charge of his new position after handing over the charge of his old post.
Turning to the allegations that some three million voters of Karachi had been transferred to addresses in Swat, Mingora and other cities without their consent, Mr Baloch claimed that the figure was incorrect.
He admitted that in one case over 650 voters had been enrolled from just one house in Karachi, but said the National Database and Registration Authority was responsible for the mistake. Mr Baloch added that the mistake had been corrected immediately. Such mistakes were not specific to Karachi but had been committed in other cities as well.
He said that when the population census organisation increased the number of census blocks, the number of blocks in Karachi swelled to 13,200 from 7,600, which led to dislocations. He said that as many as 88,000 names had been mixed up, but the mistake was rectified soon.
He claimed that the Awami National Party, which had highlighted the flaws, was now satisfied with the voter lists of the city.