An electoral candidate submits nomination papers for the upcoming elections in Islamabad on Saturday. – Photo by Online

ISLAMABAD: Offices of the District Returning Officers of the election commission remained crowded throughout Saturday as the deadline for submission of the nomination papers draws near.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had revised the schedule for the general elections, setting a new deadline of March 31 (Sunday) for submitting the nomination papers.

The election candidates, along with their supporters holding party flags and chanting slogans, were seen gathered around the ECP offices throughout the day.

Meanwhile, the commission directed all Returning Officers to disqualify candidates displaying weapons and carry out aerial firing while submitting the nomination papers.

“It has been noticed that while filing nomination papers, the supporters of candidates display lethal weapons and carry out aerial firing, which is clear violation of the code of conduct issued by the election commission” said an ECP official talking to APP.

He said according to the code of conduct, “There will be a complete ban on carriage and display of all kinds of weapons and fire arms in public meetings and processions, as well as on the polling day and till 24 hours after the consolidation of official results by the Returning Officer,” the official observed.

He said aerial firing, use of crackers and other explosives at public meetings and at or near the polling stations is also banned.

The official said all the District Returning Officer and Returning Officer have been asked to ensure compliance and implementation the code of conduct.

Moreover, the commission has also relaxed the condition of opening a new bank account for the prospective election candidates to justify the election expenditures within the announced limits.

According to an ECP spokesman, the commission has decided that all the prospective candidates, who would file their nomination papers on the last day tomorrow, may either provide the number of their existing accounts in any bank, if any, or open new bank account and provide that number to the Returning Officers concerned on the day of scrutiny of their candidature.

He said the decision has been taken following the calls the ECP had been receiving from the candidates that it was not possible for them to open new bank accounts on the weekly holiday.

The spokesman further informed that the election commission had so far received nomination papers of 3261 candidates from across the country, out of those 1018 have been sent back to return offices.

Around 40 candidates hailing from different political parties have so far submitted their nomination papers for two constituencies of the federal capital.

In the second phase, the commission would carry out scrutiny of the nomination papers from April 1 to 7.

The ECP has set April 10 as the deadline for filing appeals against decisions of the Returning Officers with regards to rejecting or accepting the nomination papers.

The election tribunals will decide the fate of these appeals by April 17. The candidates will be allowed to withdraw their nominations by April 18.

After thorough scrutiny, the commission will publish the final revised list of the electoral candidates on April 19, which will follow the holding of elections on May 11.

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