ISLAMABAD: The Election Commis­sion of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday reminded the caretaker chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that maintaining neutrality is their legal duty.

“As you are aware that Under Section 230 of the Elections Act, 2017, the role and duties of the caretaker government is to maintain neutrality and impartiality during its period and ensure equal treatment and providing level playing field to all political parties and other stakeholders,” read a letter sent to the two caretakers with signatures of Secretary of ECP Omar Hamid Khan.

The caretaker government was also required to be non-controversial and assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in accordance with the Constitution and the laws, said the letter, seen by Dawn.

“It has been learnt that certain individuals, potential contesting candidates and members of political parties are interfering into the working of district and divisional administrations and various departments. The Election Commission expects the caretaker government to perform its duties as per the legal mandate and to keep a check on the subordinate offices and field formations i.e. district and divisions,” it said.

Signs MoU with Asia Foundation on strengthening institutional mechanisms

MoU signed with Asia Foundation

In another development, the ECP and the Asia Foundation on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at strategically supporting the ECP in strengthening institutional mechanisms to ensure a democratic culture, electoral practices and to enhance the credibility of election results and processes through coordinated efforts.

The MoU was signed by ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan and Senior Adviser of Asia Foundation Haris Qayyum.

The MoU signing ceremony was followed by a meeting between officials of ECP and representatives of Asia Foundation. The meeting was chaired by the ECP secretary.

“We value the collaboration with the Asia Foundation and believe that our joint efforts will contribute to a more inclusive electoral process,” said the ECP secretary.

“By focusing on citizen awareness and education, we are committed to empowering every eligible Pakistani to actively engage in the democratic process,” he said.

Under this MoU, the Asia Foundation and the ECP will collaborate closely to address key challenges and promote fair and transparent elections in the country. The partnership will focus on enhancing institutional mechanisms necessary for conducting credible and inclusive elections, while emphasising citizen awareness and participation.

The Asia Foundation brings its expertise to support the ECP in developing and strengthening institutional mechanisms. This will include providing technical assistance, digitisation, capacity building, and sharing international best practices.

The aim is to ensure that the ECP has the necessary tools and resources to conduct elections with integrity and transparency.

In addition, the MoU places significant importance on citizen voter awareness and participation, particularly among vulnerable groups.

The Asia Foundation and the ECP will work together to encourage and facilitate the active involvement of all people in the country’s general and local elections. By promoting inclusivity and ensuring equal access to the electoral process, the partnership seeks to empower citizens and increase their understanding of democratic principles.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2023

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