ISLAMABAD, May 1: With general elections just 11 days ahead, the legal fraternity is gearing up to observe minutely any violation of electoral laws or breach of the code of conduct set by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on the polling day.

There was a realisation among the bar associations during discussions in meetings that the community should play its part so that all segments of society are encouraged to participate in the polling to make the elections meaningful.

A national conference held in Lahore last month had suggested selection of committees of lawyers to monitor the elections in each constituency.

The ECP’s code of conduct, particularly for the polling day, has a provision to give access to the foreign and domestic observers and representatives of accredited bodies to witness the election process.

“The bar councils and associations have always played a role of a watchdog – a role necessary to strengthen the civil society,” Lahore High Court Bar Association’s president Abid Saqi said while talking to Dawn.

Mr Saqi, who had spearheaded the representative conference, said the system to observe the elections in Punjab was in place.

“We have suggested to different bodies of lawyers up to the tehsil, union council and ward levels to nominate their members who should visit various polling stations, especially in the sensitive constituencies, to keenly watch any violation of the ECP’s code of conduct by the candidates. We have the consent of the Pakistan Bar Council on the matter.”

He said the teams would also come up with reports, suggestions and recommendations for improvement and facilitation to the voters in the next elections. The consolidated report will be sent to the PBC and bar associations.

Yasin Azad, a former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association who has recently been elected as PBC’s representative in the Judicial Commission, said the teams or committees of lawyers would note instances of rigging and complaints if a particular party in a constituency was denied level playing field during the elections.

He warned that any attempt to postpone the elections would be strongly resisted by the legal fraternity.

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