The government has given a two-year extension to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary in order to ensure that the next election due in early 2013 is held under the incumbent set-up. The extension has been given to ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan, who reached the age of superannuation (retirement) on November 5, to ‘ensure continuity’ of the reforms process initiated by him. This was the justification for the extension given in the notification issued on the directives of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. An official of the establishment division told The Express Tribune that the notification was issued a few days back, without mentioning the exact date. The official who requested anonymity could not explain why the notification was not made public. Khan, when contacted, confirmed the extension. This is one of the most high-profile extensions given by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government after Chief of Army Staff Gen. Parvez Kayani and Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence Shuja Pasha.
The ECP secretary is considered the most important figure in the electoral system of the country after the chief election commissioner (CEC). Khan, who served in the national assembly secretariat as joint secretary before his appointment in the ECP, belongs to the district management group. He had resigned in March but his resignation was not accepted.
Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh Sono Khan Baloch has been given a second extension for two years by the government. He was already on extension, sources said. Sindh is considered the traditional stronghold of the PPP. This decision, like the extension for the ECP secretary, has so far not been made public by the government.