Friday, November 10, 2023
ISLAMABAD: As the country gears up for the February 8 national elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is finalising the code of conduct according to which senators and local government representatives may be allowed to campaign for their parties, reported The News on Friday.
According to the draft of the ECP guidelines, the lawmakers will have to strictly abide by the directions, instructions and regulations, and violations would result in legal consequences, including contempt proceedings under Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017.
The conduct also makes it liable for political parties, candidates and election agents to restrain their workers from exerting undue pressure on print and electronic media, including newspapers’ offices and printing presses, or resorting to violence against journalists.
The electoral watchdog has also suggested a complete ban on carrying and displaying all kinds of weapons and firearms in public meetings, processions, polling day and until 24 hours after the returning officers have consolidated the official results.
Violation will be treated as an illegal practice. The condition will not apply to guards of political parties’ leaders or candidates, but they will need a valid license for carrying weapons and prior permission from the authority concerned.
All types of firing, including aerial firing, use of crackers or other explosives at public meetings and at or near polling stations by any person, has been prohibited.
The public-office holders — president, prime minister, Senate chairman/deputy chairman, assembly speaker/deputy speaker, federal ministers, ministers of state, governors, chief ministers, provincial ministers, advisors to the PM, mayor/chairman/nazim and their deputies — cannot participate in the election campaign in any manner. The restriction will also be applicable to the caretaker setup.
An assembly speaker can campaign in his own constituency if he is a candidate, however, he will not use official protocol/resources.
There will be a complete ban on convening, holding or attending any public meeting, or promoting or joining in any procession, within the area of a constituency before 48 hours of the conclusion of polling. All election campaigns would have to be concluded before the said hours.
A political party needs to take necessary steps to keep discipline within the party, its candidates, employees and supporters and guide them to follow the laws and regulations.