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KARACHI: Police authorities have sought input of political parties before finalising a draft code of conduct for security during the July 25 general elections to make the plan more effective with parties’ guarantee for its implementation, officials have said.

They said the proposal came during a recent meeting chaired by Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal with senior police and district administration officials. The meeting was called to discuss the proposal to finalise the draft of code of conduct for the next elections.

“The Sindh police in general and Karachi police in particular have suggested the provincial government to finalise the draft after input from the political parties as well,” said an official privy to the details of the meeting. “It was suggested that the home department should forward this request to the provincial election commission to seek proposals and suggestion at least from 16 political parties which have representation in the assemblies.”

He said the suggestion was made to make the code of conduct more effective and consensual for its easier implementation.

Otherwise, he said, it had been witnessed in the past that the parties had always raised questions over the code of conduct after it was made public.

Police seek input from 16 parties in parliament on a draft code of conduct

When reminded that in the past the Election Commission of Pakistan had prepared the code of conduct after consultations with political parties, he said the police had found it hard to convince the parties over such rules.

“The police want parties to be a part of discussion with law enforcement agencies and district administration, which are always on ground during election campaigns and on the polling day. Unfortunately, the parties submit their proposals to the election commission but never become part of the discussion for its finalisation. Once they are made part of the process and their inputs are taken into consideration, they would not have any excuse to disagree with the draft,” he said.

Violation of code of conduct for the elections is not a new phenomenon.

In 2013, the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) had claimed that political parties violated the code of conduct for general elections announced by the ECP. According to Constituency Long-Term Observers of Fafen, 58 rallies across the country had been noticed in violation of the code of conduct. Of the 58 rallies, 27 were held in 13 constituencies of Sindh, 21 in eight constituencies of Punjab, eight in four Khyber Pakhtunkhwa constituencies and two in as many constituencies of Balochistan.

“We have history of violence during electioneering. For Karachi and other urban areas of Sindh, it’s important to bring all political parties on one page when it come to the code of conduct for security and other arrangements for general elections,” added the official.

Electoral training

A total of 169 returning officers (ROs), district election commissioners (DECs) and regional election commissioners (RECs) have received electoral training in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur, adds APP.

An ECP spokesman said on Sunday that 23 ROs and DECs would participate in the last phase of the training session at Hyderabad from May 29 to May 31.

The ECP organised three-day phase-wise electoral training sessions in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkar in connection with the general elections.

Speaking at the concluding session in Karachi, Sindh Election Commissioner Muhammad Yousaf Khan Khattak said that the ROs had been given a huge and important responsibility and “we hope that they will fulfil the responsibilities effectively and ensure strict implementation of the election code of conduct”.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2018