— File photo
ISLAMABAD: In what came as a surprise for many, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has excluded the president from the list of public office-holders barred from directly or indirectly running the election campaign of any candidate for the local government polls.
During the recent general elections all public office-holders, including the president, were barred from taking part in the campaign of any candidate.
Under the code of conduct for the coming LG polls, the prime minister, chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate, speakers, deputy speakers and members of national and provincial assemblies, federal ministers, ministers of state, provincial governors, chief ministers and ministers and advisers to the PM have been told not to take part in campaigning.
Under Section 31 of the code, public meetings and processions will not be permissible and the candidates will only be allowed to hold corner meetings after providing prior information to the local administration so that they could make security arrangements.
Section 26 places a bar on display and carrying of weapons in public gatherings, meetings and rallies and on the polling day. “This ban will continue for 24 hours after compilation of final results by returning officers.”
The code also prohibits aerial firing, fireworks and use of any explosive material at or around public gatherings and polling stations. Wall-chalking in all forms will be banned during the election campaign. Use of loudspeaker will be allowed for election rallies.
It asks political parties, candidates and supporters not to oppose participation of anybody in the polls on the basis of gender, race, religion or caste.
The candidates and their supporters will also have to avoid speeches which provoke regional or sectarian sentiments or have the potential to give birth to conflicts among genders, sects, linguistic groups and different segments of society.
The code seeks to limit criticism against political parties and opponent candidates to their policies, programmes and past record and their work, and avoiding criticism of leaders of other political parties and workers with respect to their personal life, which has nothing to do with their public activities.
It also restrains criticism based on unverified allegations and distortion of facts.