ECP bars president, governors from canvassing in Senate polls

Published February 27, 2021
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has barred President Dr Arif Alvi and the governors of all the provinces from taking part in the campaign for the upcoming Senate polls. — APP/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has barred President Dr Arif Alvi and the governors of all the provinces from taking part in the campaign for the upcoming Senate polls. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has barred President Dr Arif Alvi and the governors of all the provinces from taking part in the campaign for the upcoming Senate polls.

“The President and Governors of the Provinces shall not take part in election campaign relating to election to the Senate in any manner whatsoever and shall not use their respective offices as well as houses in connection therewith,” reads a code of conduct for the senate polls released by the ECP on Friday.

It says the political parties, contesting candidates, election agents and voters shall not indulge in any kind of corrupt or illegal practice (as defined in Chapter-X of the Elections Act 2017). Contesting candidates, election agents and their supporters have also been warned against soliciting the support or assistance of any person in the service of Pakistan or any public office to promote or hinder the election of a contesting candidate in any manner.

“Similarly, any person in service of Pakistan shall not promote or hinder the election of a contesting candidate in any manner or render support to any candidate in any form whatsoever,” it reads.

The code says political parties, candidates, voters and election agents shall not propagate any opinion, or act in any manner prejudicial to the glory of Islam and ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality or public order, or the integrity or independence of the parliament, judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the parliament, the judiciary or the armed forces of Pakistan.

Issues code of conduct for election, without a word on mode of polling

It also asks political parties, candidates, voters and election agents to abide by all the directives and instructions issued by the ECP, from time to time, relating to smooth conduct of elections as defined in Sections 4 and 8 of the Elections Act, 2017 and refrain from maligning the ECP in any form whatsoever.

It warns that any violation may entail contempt proceedings as contemplated in Section 10 of the Elections Act 2017.

While it is yet to be decided if the voting for the Senate polls will be open or through secret ballot, voters have been told not to carry mobile phone or other such electronic device or gadget that can be used to take photograph of the marked ballot paper.

“For purposes of his election expenses, a candidate shall open an exclusive account with any branch of a scheduled bank before the date fixed for scrutiny of nomination papers and maintain, or cause to be maintained, a register of receipts and expenditures,” it reads.

The candidates will not be allowed to make any transaction towards the election expenses through an account other than the account opened for the purpose.

A candidate may open the bank account for election expenses with an amount not exceeding the limit of election expenses provided under the elections act.

The returned candidates will have to submit their return of election expenses to the returning officer on Form C within five days from the date of election in accordance with sub-section (3) of section 123 of the Act whereas other contesting candidates will have to submit their election expenses on Form C to the returning officer within 30 days of the publication of the names of the returned candidates as required under section 134 of the Act.

Section 233 of the Elections Act 2017 provides that the ECP shall in consultation with political parties frame a code of conduct for political parties, contesting candidates, election agents and polling agents.

Some of the proposals given by representatives of political parties having representation in the national and provincial assemblies have been incorporated in the final draft, particularly the one about respect for the parliament.

The code of conduct has been issued for political parties, contesting candidates, election agents and voters not only for the upcoming Senate elections 2021 but also for all the subsequent by-elections with the directive that the political parties, candidates, election agents and voters shall follow the code of conduct during the Senate elections 2021 and subsequent by-elections in letter and spirit.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2021

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