- File Photo
- File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) warned candidates on Sunday against seeking votes in the name of religion or sect.

Briefing reporters on the rules of the game for May 11 polls, a senior ECP official said political parties, candidates and their supporters must not campaign against any person on the basis of religion, ethnicity, caste or gender. Candidates and their supporters shall refrain from speeches arousing parochial and sectarian emotions and controversy between gender, community and linguistic groups.

He said political parties and candidates must uphold people’s rights and freedom guaranteed in the constitution. Candidates must scrupulously avoid indulging in activities regarded as offences in the election laws, such as bribing voters, indulging in intimidation and impersonation, canvassing within 400 yards of polling stations, including setting up of camps, and holding public meetings during 48 hours before the start of polling.

Political parties, candidates and their supporters must refrain from deliberate dissemination of false and malicious information and must not indulge in forgery and disinformation to defame other political parties and their leaders.

Carrying and displaying all kinds of weapons in public meetings, processions and on the election day will be banned. Firing into the air, use of crackers and other explosives at public meetings and at or near polling stations will not be allowed.

Replying to a question, the official said under section 78 of the Representation of People Act-1976, “a person is guilty of corrupt practice if he indulges in bribery, impersonation or undue influence, makes or publishes a false statement or submits false or incorrect declaration concerning personal character of a candidate or any of his relative to adversely affect his election or to promote or procure the election of another candidate, unless he proves that he has reasonable grounds for believing, and does believe, the statement to be true, relating to the symbol of a candidate or withdrawal of a candidate, in respect of his educational qualifications, assets and liabilities, or any liability with regard to payment of loans or adherence to party affiliation”.

Those who call upon or persuade any person to vote, or to refrain from voting, for any candidate on the ground that he belongs to a particular religion, province, community, race, caste, sect or tribe will also fall under the category.

So will be those persons who lend, hire, borrow or use a vehicle or a vessel to transport voters to and from polling stations or cause or try to cause any person present at a polling station to depart without voting.

The official said under section 79 of the act, “a person is guilty of bribery, if he, directly or indirectly,… receives or agrees to receive or contracts for any gratification for voting or refraining from voting, or for being or refraining from being a candidate, or for withdrawing from an election, gives, offers or promises any gratification to any person for the purpose of inducing a person to be, or to refrain from being, a candidate…, an elector to vote, or refrain from voting, or a candidate to withdraw”.

He said “gratification” included money or estimable in all forms of entertainment or employment.

Updated Apr 15, 2013 06:44am

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Comments (14) (Closed)

Apr 15, 2013 01:52am
Sir, The order of the Election Commission of Pakistan not to seek votes in the name of religion, caste , ethnicity or gender deserves applause from all democracy loving people in the world. Unfortunately, even in matured democracy people cast their votes on the basis of caste and religion. It is, therefore, in this context the step taken by ECP is a welcome step. Yours faithfully; BIMAL CHANDRA JHA Samanpura Road, Patna, India
Apr 15, 2013 02:01am
Can you imagine if Jinnah had to abide by these new ECP rulings back in 1940's?
Apr 15, 2013 02:02am
well donr .. ban all religious based politics !!
siraj K.
Apr 15, 2013 02:13am
i fear that this directive is another distraction, just as questions being asked by RO's of candidates was. a number of political commentators have said and hopefully will continue to say, that one of the most important tasks in front of the election commission now (before the elections take place) is to ensure that those on the ballot list are actually eligible to contest. if defaulters are not, if tax evaders are not, if those against whom multiple cases are in court are not, if those who have stormed the supreme court in the past are not, then they need to be weeded out, irrespective of who they are, how high an office they have held and under whom's patronage (internal and external) they sit. many, if not most of the 'big wigs', i am told, should not be on the ballot list. can the apolitical election commission please state under oath.
Apr 15, 2013 02:56am
Thanks ECP
Apr 15, 2013 04:03am
It shows me that I should strike Qama on my head and fall asleep. Pakistan came into being on religious ground. To mention religion is a must inorder to denounce extremism and Un-Islamic culture that prevailing in the country that do not meet to Quranic Order and not meeting the culture prevailing during Pious Caliphs Abu Baker and Omar's period. If denied by CE that will encourage extremism like religious congregations and processions etc. due to which country facing religious disturbances and killings etc. to which ECP himself aware. Moreover he should play a role by using his own senses to denounce extremism and un-islamic culture with reason, logic and historical evidences. Need to have awareness in public about religion. Pakistani nation should not be pushed towards slavery to follow anyone, each man is free not slave. I hope he will realize the situation and will accept my view.
Shahzad Latif
Apr 15, 2013 05:17am
Sorry, it appears you didnt understand the gist behind the ruling. Please read it carefully first.
Apr 15, 2013 06:21am
In India it is a regular practice. Politicians asking vote on the basis of religion, ethnicity, caste. Example is Narender Modi, BJP, BSP etc., etc.,
Safeer Hussain
Apr 15, 2013 07:17am
Well said.. And yet another confusion, If these articles 62 63 and 79 are practiced upon strictly, I fear no candidate shall be left to contest elections.. The ECP is just blabbering articles, no proper implementation has been done yet.. All the articles cited, are being practiced upon minor politicians, the big guns haven't been touched yet.. All drama to fool this ignorant nation.. Pity..
Apr 15, 2013 07:40am
to me i feel it is weird decision by ecp..... it mean religious parties like mma, ji all are out???? no-way!! it's people wish on what grounds they cast vote... no matter religious, caste or whatever, that's why it is called democracy!!!
Apr 15, 2013 07:44am
There is no room for politics based on religion or cast in Pakistan. Its time we put the country on the right path.Well done ECP
Hum Awam
Apr 15, 2013 10:23am
everything is pre planned they are removing what ever religion we have and media is part of that campagin which is doing propoganda by full force to convince people that religion is evil and secularism is good and to large part it is successfull in inserting this beilive to the minds of masses and who is paying all this well if u go to websites of think tanks like cfr and see info about what their plans are for pakistan u could see everything
Apr 15, 2013 01:08pm
they are not "out", they simply need to talk about things other than religion (like governance)
Syed Imam
Apr 15, 2013 04:40pm
Good decision. My only question is why did the EC first allow the the Returning Officers to inject religion during the submission of nomination papers under the pretext of Articles 62 and 63?