Punjab government and ECP stay silent on unlawful actions in province

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Both the caretaker government in Punjab and the election body have chosen not to address the questionable actions undertaken by the former in the province, even though these actions run counter to its legal responsibilities.

On August 17, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) penned a letter to the Punjab chief secretary, urging restraint in executing activities that were deemed illegal.
“As per Section 230(2)(a) of the Election Act 2017 and subsequent guidelines…issued by the Elected Commission,” the ECP’s special secretary noted in the letter, which was also shared by the commission on the social media platform X.

The letter stated, “The caretaker government cannot make significant policy decisions except for urgent matters required to manage day-to-day government affairs.”

The ECP’s letter then outlined some of these illicit decisions that were being pursued without restraint in the province.

The ECP observed that the interim Punjab government was approving “significant alterations in land usage” in various districts.

“The deputy commissioners are issuing NOCs for housing developments, compromising green areas, and, in the process, sacrificing agricultural land,” the letter cautioned, “This could lead to unplanned and chaotic expansion of residential areas.”

Furthermore, the ECP raised concerns about potential corruption in certain instances.

The ECP then reminded the caretaker Punjab government that such policy decisions were inconsistent with its designated role and should only be “formulated by an elected government.”

The ECP instructed the Punjab government to halt the issuance of new NOCs and to immediately direct its deputy commissioners accordingly.

Even a month after the letter was issued, it is unclear what these projects are, which are compromising Punjab’s green areas and agricultural land, and if they have been halted after the ECP took notice.

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