In a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s directives, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (r) Hamid Ali Mirza has extended the contract of Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh Sono Khan Baloch for a third time.
A source in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) told Pakistan Today that Sono had retired from service in 2009 but was given one-year extension on May 12, the same year while his contract was extended for another year on May 14, 2010. But after the expiry of contract, the CEC extended it for another seven months (till December 2011), which has blocked the entire promotion process.
“After the passage of 18th Amendment, the CEC is entitled to grant extensions,” the source said. However, the CEC’s spokesman while talking to Pakistan Today said the move was according to the rules. It is pertinent to note that Sono had been promoted to BPS-20 in 2007 and moved to the BPS-21 in 2009 just two days prior to his retirement. Pakistan’s Esta Code allows extensions in very rare circumstances only when there is no adequate substitute.
Interestingly, all provincial election commissioners, except Sono, are working in BPS-20. They include Akhtar Hussain Sabir (Punjab), Mehboob Anwar (Balochistan) and Sher Afgan (Balochistan). Sono also made headlines in January when an official of Sindh Election Commission wrote a letter to FIA Sindh against his alleged corruption in vehicles’ auction. However, no inquiry has so far been initiated yet.