ISLAMABAD - As many as 21 out of 32 districts in Balochistan have weak writ of the state besides having volatile political atmosphere among other problems as election authorities have categorized the districts in Hard Zone ahead of embarking on a massive transfers and postings of its officers.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has officially informed its four provincial headquarters to transfer the officers who have served more than three years in a station. Officers of cadres BPS-17-18-19 and 20 will be posted at stations across the country.

According to the Posting/Transfer Policy 2016 approved by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), a copy of which is available with The Nation, reveals that no officer should be posted at his/her home station.

As per the policy of ECP, the stations have been categorized into three zones — hard, standard and soft — with Quetta the only district in Balochistan that comes in the category of soft zone.

The ECP headed by retired Justice Sardar Raza Khan has defined hard zone as a place where writ of the state is weak, volatile political environment, lack of essential facilities or a difficult environment where a family cannot be kept at station.

Balochistan has topped the list of districts falling in hard zone followed by Federally Administered Areas (FATA) where the entire seven agencies have been placed in hard zone. As many as eight districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are also included in the extreme category.

There is a wave of resentment among the officers as majority of them had earlier hesitated to perform duties in far flung areas. According to officials, the CEC was forced to issue policy guidelines in order to make the officers bound to follow the rules.

Most of them may agree to perform duties in districts in Punjab and Sindh, but there are officers who still avoid being transferred to Balochistan and tribal parts in the country.

The districts that fall in hard zone in Balochistan include Qilla Abdullah, Chagi, Nushki, Qilla Saifullah, Sheerani, Barkhan, Musakhel, Harnai, Ziarat, Kohlu, Dera Bugti, Bolan, Jhall Magsi, Khuzdar, Klat, Awaran, Kharan, Turbat, Panjgur, Harnai, Lehri and Suhbatpur.

Five districts in Punjab that have been inserted in hard zone are in south of the province and have been defined as having lack of residential accommodation besides having abnormally hefty travel expenses. The districts are Bhakkar, Mianwali, Layyah, Rajanpur and Bahawalnagar.

Similarly, Tank, Kohistan, Bhattagram, Upper Dir, Tor Ghar, Chitral, Shangla and Buner in KP province are extreme stations for the transfers and postings of officers.

All tribal agencies of Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, South Waziristan and North Waziristan come in the category ‘Hard’ as classified by the ECP.

This is for the first time that ECP has made the policy ahead of transferring its staff to various locations. It says the move is aimed at capacity building measures of its employees before 2018 general elections.

It says the move will discourage its staff to be influenced by politicians by banning the officers from performing duties at home stations.

According to the plan, an officer who has completed three years of service at a soft station will be automatically transferred to standard station or hard zone. And those completing three years service at standard stations and two years at a hard zone will be transferred by rotation to a soft or standard zone.