ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has extended the deadline of submitting nomination papers by two days to March 31. Meanwhile, a ban previously imposed by the commission on new recruitment in government offices ahead of general elections has also been lifted.
The ban had been in place for the past two months to discourage the previous government from making political appointments ahead of general elections.
However, the ECP’s additional secretary Mohammad Afzal Khan said that a ban on diversion of funds already allocated to various development schemes was not being lifted.
According to a new election schedule announced Thursday, nomination forms for electoral candidates will now be accepted until March 31 throughout the country, while the dates for other electoral processes has also been changed.
The ECP made the changes after leaders from Balochistan requested an extension the deadline for nomination forms, and candidates faced difficulties filing papers.
According to the original schedule, the deadline for submission was March 29.
After submission of candidacy papers, scrutiny will be undertaken by election staff from April 1 to April 7.
Appeals against nomination papers may be filed until April 10, judgments on which would be made by April 16.
The final list of electoral candidates will now be released by the election commission on April 18.
General elections will be held throughout Pakistan on May 11.
According to the Interior Ministry, a total of 85,000 polling stations would be set up throughout the country. The ministry also said that it was currently in the middle of identifying sensitive areas.
Directives for campaigning, polling day
The ECP has made other important announcements regarding campaigning for the polls.
Earlier Thursday, the ECP fixed the limit of election expenditures at Rs 1.5 million for the National Assembly and Rs 1 million for provincial assemblies.
It also decided to ban car rallies, use of loud speakers and oversized publicity material.
According to the ECP directive, each contesting candidate shall open an account to deposit the fixed amount and ensure to make all expenditures out of this amount.
The candidate would submit to the District Returning Officer on every Thursday of the campaign period, a statement of election expenses made by him during the preceding week.
According to the ECP, car rallies will not be allowed to travel long distances except if they have pre-arranged corner meetings at specific designated places and the meetings shall be notified to the ordinary public by the local administration.
No person or a political party shall hoist or fix party flags on any public property or at any public place, except with the permission from and on fee payment to the concerned local government or authorities.
The ECP has banned wall chalking as part of election campaigns and the use of loudspeakers except at the election meetings.
The political parties and candidates have been asked to convey their schedule of meeting at least one week in advance to the local administration that would be responsible for appropriate security arrangements and ensure equal opportunities to the contesting candidates.
'Violators to be punished'According to the Election Commission, any violation of the directives would be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years or with fine up to Rs 5,000, or both. The ECP has banned setting up of camps near the polling stations on the polling day, canvassing for votes, persuading any elector not to vote for a particular candidate, or exhibiting any notice, sign, banner or flag designed to encourage or discourage the electors within a radius of 400 yards of the polling station.
The ECP has clarified that any violation of the said directives would be a corrupt practice and be punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years or with fine up to Rs 5,000, or both.
The two-member teams, with a video camera, shall monitor the election process including campaign expenditure and observance of code of conduct by contesting candidates and political parties.
The teams will report to the Provincial Election Commissioner on daily basis and the local administration shall provide necessary security to each team during the monitoring in the constituency.
The District Returning Officers shall hold meetings with the candidates and apprise them of the relevant laws, rules and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, pertaining to the code of conduct and election campaign expenses.