ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan will consult political parties on the code of conduct for the upcoming general elections on October 4.

According to the ECP, a draft code of conduct has been shared with political parties to get their feedback before finalising the rules of the game. The consultative session will be in line with Section 233 of the Elections Act.

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

“The political parties, contesting candidates and election agents shall abide by all directions, instructions and regulations issued by the Election Commission, from time to time, relating to smooth conduct of elections, the maintenance of public order and morality and refrain from maligning the Election Commission in any form whatsoever, violation whereof would entail contempt as contemplated in Section 10 of the Elections Act, 2017,” it says.

Consultation scheduled for Oct 4; commission says election schedule to be announced after delimitation

Likewise, the political parties, contesting candidates, election agents and their supporters shall not indulge in offering gifts or gratifications to any person to contest or not to contest as a candidate, or to withdraw or retire or not to withdraw or not to retire from the election.

The draft code cautions that incitement to violence or resort to violence during pre-poll campaign or during polling hours shall be strictly avoided by contesting candidates and their supporters. They shall publicly condemn violence and intimidation and not use language that might lead to violence or resort to violence. No person shall in any manner cause injury to any person or damage to any property.

On the polling day, it says, a contesting candidate can appoint polling agents at each polling station as per number of polling booths; similarly contesting candidate can appoint three election agents for the whole Constituency, by notice to the Presiding Officer and Returning Officer respectively. However, at the time of counting and consolidation of res­ult only one agent will be present.

For the purpose of election expenses, all candidates shall open an exclusive account with any branch of a scheduled bank or can dedicate existing bank account by submitting statement of the existing bank account to the returning officer at the time of filing of nomination papers.

After the publication of final list of contesting candidates, each candidate shall submit to the ret­u­r­ning officer concerned fortnig­htly statement of expenses incu­rred on his election campaign.

The political parties, candidates and election agents shall firmly restrain their workers from exerting undue pressure against the print and electronic media, including newspapers’ offices and printing presses, or resorting to violence of any kind against the media.

There will be a complete ban on carriage and display of all kinds of weapons in public meetings and processions as well as on the polling day and until 24 hours after the consolidation of official results. The draft code says the public office holders shall not participate in election campaign in any manner whatsoever.

Meanwhile, rejecting demands for immediate announcement of election schedule, the ECP has decided to issue it only after completion of delimitation exercise. A senior official of the ECP told Dawn that announcement of election date or schedule before completion of exercise to redraw boundaries of constituencies would be inappropriate.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2023

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