PESHAWAR: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday served a notice on Prime Minister Imran Khan for addressing a public meeting in Lower Dir district and directed him to explain his position for violating the code of conduct issued for local body elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In the notice, district monitoring officer Hamidullah directed the prime minister to appear before him or send in a lawyer on March 14 for the purpose.
He also issued notices to provincial Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and federal ministers Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pervez Khattak, Asad Umar and Murad Saeed for violating the poll code of conduct.
The DRO directed them all to explain their respective positions on the matter to him on March 14 in person or through lawyers.
Asks them to explain position for addressing public meeting despite restriction
“It was conveyed to you that public office holder including prime minister cannot participate in election campaign or canvass in any local council or announce any development scheme after issuance of election schedule,” read the notice served on the prime minister.
It added that the prime minister was advised to abide by the provisions of the revised code of conduct but he ‘omitted to comply with the directions of the commission as well as revised code of conduct and visited Lower Dir, held a public gathering, and utilised state machinery’.
The notice said the prime minister was required to appear in person or through counsel before the DMO along with written defence on March 14, and in case of his failure to do so, an ex-parte decision would be taken under Section 234 of the Election Act, 2017.
Earlier in the day, the DMO, keeping in view the scheduled visit of the prime minister,had issued an advisory for Mr Imran against violating any provision of the revised code of conduct and the ECP’s directives during the visit. He warned if the prime minister failed to act accordingly, legal proceedings might be initiated against him under sections 233 and 234 of the Elections Act, 2017.
The advisory issued to the prime minister through his principal secretary said, “It has come to the notice of the undersigned (DRO) through print and electronic media that you (PM) are scheduled to visit Lower Dir today (Friday) for canvassing and holding public gathering. Your (PM) attention is invited to the revised code of conduct issued by the ECP regarding restriction on visiting the area of any local council and announcement of any developmental schemes by the public office holders after issuance of election schedule.”
However, the prime minister and his cabinet members along with the provincial governor and chief minister and his cabinet members disregarded the advisory and addressed the scheduled public meeting.
Lower Dir is one of the districts, where the second phase of local body elections will be held on March 31. Other districts include Abbottabad, Mansehra, Battagram, Torghar, Upper and Lower Kohistan, Kolai-Palas, Kohistan, Swat, Malakand, Shangla, Upper Dir, Upper and Lower Chitral, Kurram, Orakzai, and North and South Waziristan.
According to the revised election code of conduct, the public officeholders, including president, prime minister, Senate chairman and deputy chairman, speaker and deputy speaker of any assembly, federal and provincial ministers, chief ministers, advisers, mayors, chairmen, nazims and their deputies will not participate in the election campaign of candidates in any manner. However, MNAs, MPAs and senators can participate in canvassing by strictly abiding by the code of conduct.
First phase of the local body elections were held in 17 districts of the province on Dec 19.
Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2022