ISLAMABAD - Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim has strictly directed all the ECP officials not to issue any statement to electronic or print media.

In this connection, the CEC Tuesday issued a special notification barring the ECP officials from giving press statements and appearing before the electronic and print media. The CEC made it clear that he had earlier issued the direction that only the secretary was authorised to issue a statement in media. “Unfortunately, this order seems to have been violated and other officers of the ECP are giving statements in the media, some of which even contradictory,” he added in the official notification. Fakhruddin G Ebrahim said that only the ECP secretary would issue press statements and in his absence Director General (Elections) Syed Sher Afghan would do the same.

However, sources in the ECP told The Nation that the immediate reason behind the issuance of this notification was a hot argument exchanged between Additional Secretary Afzal Khan and a reporter of a TV channel during the briefing of the interior minister held at the Ministry of Interior on Tuesday.

The argument started when the reporter asked the interior minister whether he had contacted political parties to discuss security situation about the elections. The ECP official started replying while ignoring the minister. Afzal Khan got infuriated when the reporter asked him whether he had the mandate to reply such questions and said, “Have you (the reporter) the mandate to interfere?” The ECP official also threatened the journalist of dire consequences.

The sources said Additional Secretary Afzal Khan had been continuously trespassing the domain for which he had no mandate. “His unnecessary and inappropriate aggressive behaviour was embarrassing not only the ECP but also earning opposition and resentment from the political parties which are of the view that a public servant is not authorised to issue political statements and make tall claims,” they added.

They were of the view that for this very reason, the CEC took notice of the matter and barred all ECP officials except the secretary and the DG (elections) from issuing statements in the media.