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PESHAWAR: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday took notice of launching of “Insaf Rozgar Scheme” for youth of tribal districts by provincial government, terming it violation of election code of conduct and directed the chief minister to postpone the ceremony till completion of election process in these districts.

A letter was sent to chief minister’s principal secretary by the deputy director, Naveedur Rehman, of the office of provincial election commissioner, wherein it was mentioned that the publicity/news item, which appeared in a local newspaper about distribution of interest-free loans in tribal districts, was in violation of the code of conduct issued by ECP for the provincial assembly elections in merged districts where polling would be held on July 20.

However, by the time ECP took notice of the issue, the function at Chief Minister’s House had already been held in the morning.

Future course of action to be decided after receiving govt’s reply

ECP provincial spokesman Sohail Khan told Dawn that as the advertisement in question appeared on Thursday, the commission took prompt action and issued the letter to the chief minister.

He said that after receiving reply from the government, the commission would look into the matter to decide future course of action.

He said that ECP had been keeping vigilant eye on stakeholders involved in electioneering so that they should not violate the code of conduct.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan vide notification No F.8 (2)/2019-Cord (1) dated May 6, 2019 has imposed a ban on all developmental schemes in constituencies, where election is under process till culmination of election process,” the letter sent to chief minister states.

“In light of foregoing the ceremony being arranged at the Chief Minister Secretariat is a violation of the above instructions and code of conduct issued by ECP. You are, therefore, required to defer the planned ceremony till completion of election process in merged districts and in case of non-compliance, the matter will be reported to the Honourable Commission for further necessary action,” says the letter.

Meanwhile, the district returning officers of Kurram and Khyber tribal districts have issued notices to Senior Minister Mohammad Atif Khan, MNA Iqbal Afridi and PTI candidate for PK-107, Khyber-III, Zubair Afridi, respectively, for violating the code of conduct.

In notice to MNA Iqbal Afridi, the DRO pointed out that he had participated in a public gathering in Tapa Sultankhel, Wazirabad Kallay, where he had declared full support to PTI candidate Zubair Afridi, which was violation of para-17 of the code of conduct issued by ECP.

The DRO directed the MNA and the candidate to appear before him on June 24.

In case of Atif Khan, the office of provincial election commissioner had sent a letter to the DRO Kurram and the district monitoring officer regarding visit of the senior minister to the district and announcement of several schemes, which was reported in local newspapers on June 20.

The DRO Kurram issued notice to Atif Khan, asking him to clarify his position till June 26.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2019