• Chief secretary submits reply on directives for providing level playing field to PTI
• Says all candidates were able to file nomination papers without any hindrance

ISLAMABAD: The chief secretary of Punjab has assured the Supreme Court that the provincial government is committed to supporting the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in conducting free and fair elections, scheduled for February 8.

In a reply submitted to the apex court on Saturday, the chief secretary stated that the provincial government had implemented in letter and spirit all instructions received from the ECP and Punjab election commissioner. Compla­ints received from political parties had also been disposed of in accordance with relevant rules and laws, he added.

The reply was furnished in response to the court’s Jan 3 order for the chief secretary and the inspector general of police to furnish a report on whether the directives issued by the provincial election commission to them were complied with, and if not, then explain the reason for not doing so.

The directives were issued on a contempt of court petition moved by the Pak­i­s­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf against the ECP and other government authorities for the all­eged violation of the apex court’s Dec 22 orders, as well as lack of level playing field for the party during the election process.

According to the reply, the Punjab government prepared district-wise handbooks containing all details regarding election; besides, all returning officers (RO) have been directed to provide level playing field to all the contesting candidates and political parties for the conduct of the general elections.

Moreover, it said, non-arbitrary scrutiny process had been ensured for all candidates who had filed their nomination papers.

The reply said all interested candidates were able to file nomination papers without any hindrance, adding that no illegal arrest/detention of any contesting candidate or their proposers or seconders was made.

It said that personal visits by the ROs to polling stations were und­e­r­way to ensure the availability of essential facilities there like electricity, water, boundary walls, etc.

Likewise, it added, district control rooms had been established for monitoring/coordination and redressal of the grievances of contesting candidates. Moreover, districts have started procuring CCTV cameras for installation at all highly sensitive polling stations.

The reply said that information rela­ted to electoral process had also been made public in accordance with the election rules.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2024

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