PESHAWAR, March 10: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) launched its election campaign on Sunday with a violation of relevant law and election code of conduct by affixing hoardings much larger than the legally permitted size in different parts of the provincial capital.
While other major political parties have been flagrantly violating the code by displaying huge billboards on important roads, the PTI proved to be no different despite its slogan of “change”.
As the party chief Imran Khan had engagements in Peshawar for two consecutive days the PTI supporters, mainly aspirants for party ticket, affixed hoardings on major roads from which he was scheduled to travel so as to catch his attention.
Mr Khan laid the foundation stone of Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in Hayatabad Township on Saturday and his supporters had affixed big hoardings on the University Road, the route leading to the said venue. Most of the hoardings on that road are displayed by two leaders who hope to get the party ticket for provincial assembly constituency of PK-5.
Similarly, hoardings also sprung up on other roads, including the G.T. Road, which is near the venue of the Sunday’s public meeting.
Interestingly, the PTI’s violation of code of conduct came after the warning by provincial election commissioner Sono Khan Baloch on March 5 to the political parties, their supporters and aspirants of party ticket to remove the hoardings larger than the specified sizes within five days.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had also issued the code of conduct for political parties last month, directing them to fully abide by it.
Section 12 of the code of conduct prescribed sizes of hoardings, etc as follows — posters 2 feet x 3 feet; hoardings 3 feet x 5 feet; banners 3 feet x 9 feet; and leaflets/ handbills 9 inches x 6 inches.
The said section states that the head of district administration/political agent and the district returning officer should be responsible for the effective implementation of this provision.
So far the administration has turned a blind eye to this violation of the code, as most of the political parties and their supporters have displayed hoardings of the size 10 feet x 20 feet.
In certain cases much larger boards of the 20 feet x 50 feet are being put on display. The PTI has also occupied the larger billboards and displayed hoardings over it carrying portrait of the party chief and its insignia.
Section 83-A (1) of the Representation of Peoples Act prohibits affixing hoardings, banners and posters larger than the prescribed size.
Furthermore, Section 83-A (5) declares it a penal offence punishable with up to one year imprisonment and fine.
Member of one of the political parties violating the law told Dawn that in certain cases the code was not realistic.
He stated that the size of hoarding prescribed by the ECP was only 3 feet x 5 feet, which was much smaller and would not be visible to passers-by.
He said that hoardings of such size would not serve the purpose.
Another political activist, who requested anonymity, alleged that the ECP had been overstepping its powers by applying the code even when the election schedule was not announced.
He said that the code should be applicable once the schedule for general election was announced.
The code of conduct was issued by the ECP in pursuance of Article 218(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan read with Article 6 of the Election Commission Order 2002 and Article 18 of the Political Parties Order, 2002.