Surprised PTI govt on another ‘fishy’ EVM mission after RTS failure in last polls: Sindh CM

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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has a bone to pick with the federal government over its initiation of an “unrealistic” rotation policy of transfers and postings of bureaucrats and police officials and over the approval of controversial bills about the population census and the use of an electronic voting machine (EVM) in the joint session of Parliament.

The Sindh CM expressed his views at a press conference following a provincial cabinet meeting Thursday.

“It is a wrong impression that officers of the PAS [Pakistan Administrative Service] and PSP [Police Service of Pakistan] are the employees of the federal government, who in fact are employees of the Federation and the federal government is legally bound to have a ‘meaningful discussion’ with the chief minister before transferring or posting any of them from the province,” the Sindh CM was quoted

The federal government has withdrawn the services of four grade BS-20 PAS officer and seven PSP officers from Sindh and sent four PAS and eight PSP officers in their place under its rotation policy, informed the Sindh CM, protesting the transfer of nearly 50% or 12 officer from Sindh against 26 sanctioned posts of PSP officers of Grade BS-20.

In the case of PAS officers, he said that against 67 sanctioned posts, only 30 were working – which means Sindh has a shortage of 37 officers. Similarly, the Sindh government has a sanctioned strength of 16 officers of grade BS-21 against which only four officers are working, he said.

Sindh CM questions why he wasn’t consulted first

He objected to the federal government going ahead with the transfers of officers from Sindh and posting officers from elsewhere to Sindh without consulting him.

The provincial cabinet has rejected the Establishment Division’s transfer orders, he said, asking the Establishment Division not to “harass and compel” the officers to join their new postings and to let them work in Sindh.

“Different districts of this province have different dynamics and the officers already working here have experience to deal with the different situations here,” the publication reported him as saying. If the new officers were posted in different areas, it would create serious issues, he added.

On the use of EVMs

On EVMs, the CM said when the federal government failed to correctly count 342 people at the joint session of Parliament, it was simply impossible to count millions of people in the polls.

He said the federal government has failed to operate its electronic Vote Count system installed in the National Assembly. Similarly, he said, it would be unable to operate its EVMs.

In the last general election, the Result Transmission System failed and election results became controversial, he said, adding that he was surprised the PTI government has embarked upon another ‘fishy’ EVM system.

‘Serious reservations’ over census results

About the census, the CM said his government has serious reservations about the census results. Giving an example of the house count, he said that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, over 3.84 million houses were counted. Punjab has 17.1 million, Sindh 8.58 million and Balochistan 1.77 million households.

On average, he said, KP has 7.9 members per house, Balochistan 6.95, Punjab 6.43 and Sindh 5.58, meaning Sindh has the lowest number of family members per house. Quoting a Unicef survey, CM Shah said it has disclosed that KP has 7.6 members per house, Balochistan 7.7 members, Punjab 6.43 and Sindh 7.2 members per house.

“This shows that Sindh has a population of 620 million. I am surprised that the federal minister [Asad Umar] gave a totally baseless, unfounded and incorrect statement on the floor of the joint session [of Parliament].”

On the right to vote for overseas Pakistanis

On the expats vote, the CM said his party is not against giving the right to vote to overseas Pakistanis, but that they would have to come to their constituency to cast their vote.

“The families living abroad for the last many years have become nationals there and don’t know the ground realities of the country, so giving them the right to vote from overseas is against the principle of democracy,” Shah said, adding that former president Asif Ali Zardari has rightly pointed out that the beneficiaries of PTI’s expat vote project would be someone else.

The CM said the provincial cabinet, to incentivise farmers and encourage them to grow more wheat, has decided to fix the support price of wheat at Rs2,200 per 40kg for the 2021-22 season. The cabinet also allowed the excise and taxation department to rationalise the registration and renewal fees of electric vehicles so they could easily be registered in the province.

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