Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday submitted a reply to the show-cause issued to him by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for visiting Ghotki ahead of the NA-205 by-election next month, saying he had not violated any provisions of the commission's code of conduct.
According to Para 17(b) of the ECP code of conduct, no member of parliament can visit a constituency where by-elections are scheduled after the dates for the election have been notified.
The response submitted through his counsel, Babar Awan, stated that it was a "matter of public record" that a member of the federal cabinet, minister for narcotics control Ali Mohammad Mahar, had passed away and the prime minister had visited his family in Ghotki on June 19 to condole the minister's demise.
It was Mahar’s death which had necessitated the by-election for the NA-205 seat. By-elections on the seat are scheduled to take place on July 18.
"Our client (the prime minister) has not participated in any political programme or a meeting/rally nor he made any political statement [or] press talk which is a proof of the fact that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has deep respect for the electoral laws and code of conduct," the reply said.
It noted that Para 17(b) of the ECP code of conduct forbids parliamentarians and public office holders from participating in the election campaign in any manner after the announcement of the schedule but that it "does not bar religious visit for condolence" and the prime minister "has not participated in the election campaign in any manner, whatsoever".
The reply termed as "malicious, scandalous and baseless" the complaint filed by a candidate against the prime minister's visit, alleging that the candidate was attempting to "illegally influence the election campaign in his favour by bringing the name of prime minister of Pakistan in the local dirty politics of his party".
The premier's counsel requested the ECP to withdraw the show-cause notice issued to his client for being "misconceived and without any legal justification and reason".
According to the reply, Prime Minister Imran reserves the right to file a complaint for the initiation of proceedings against the complainant "for making a false and dishonest statement" before the ECP. It sought a copy of the complaint and the accompanying affidavit for appropriate legal action.
While in Ghotki, the prime minister had assured the Maher brothers that the PPP would not be allowed to rig the by-election and that he would issue directives to the authorities concerned to ensure that.
According to the letter issued by the election commission, a complaint against the visit was registered by Abdul Bari Pitafi, a candidate from the constituency.
The candidate had pointed out that Prime Minister Imran's visit to Ghotki was in violation of the ECP code of conduct as the schedule for the by-election had already been notified.
In the show-cause notice, the prime minister was given one week to submit a reply in the matter.