— File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan imposed on Friday a ban on using public money for advertisements given by the federal and provincial governments to promote their parties.

A press release issued by a spokesman for the commission said the ban would apply to advertisements appearing in the print or electronic media bearing party logo, party name, images of party leaders and directly or indirectly promoting any party or candidate.

The ECP asked the federal and provincial governments to ensure its implementation in letter and spirit.

The spokesman said: “It has been noted with concern that as the forthcoming elections are approaching, there are frequent advertisements appearing in the print and electronic media which highlight the achievements of the incumbent federal and provincial governments and that these advertisements with party symbols are being used to promote political parties by placing party symbols and images of party leaders therein.”

He said: “These were against the norms of level-playing field, which cannot be allowed to continue as it will amount to misuse the resources from the public exchequer for their own self-interest.”

The spokesman said the arrangements had been made to ensure free, fair and transparent elections under Article 218(3) of the Constitution and this duty had been reiterated in the recent judgment of the Supreme Court where the apex court had observed that “the Election Commission is fully empowered and independent to do all that is necessary to fulfil its constitutional mandate and instruct that it do so.”

PML-Q RESOLUTION: The ECP responded to a resolution adopted by the PML-Q expressing no-confidence against the commission.

The party had alleged that the commission was a mouthpiece of the PML-N and that it had failed to check rigging in by-elections.

Denying the allegations, the ECP clarified that it was absolutely neutral.

“The Chief Election Commissioner and four members were brought in by the mutual consent of all the political parties, and no one in the commission has any affiliation with any political party.”

The ECP said all the complaints made by the PML-Q before the by-elections conducted in Punjab were patiently heard and immediately redressed.

“Complaints by the PML-Q after the conclusion and submission of results by the returning officer have to be heard and tried by the Election Tribunal under the law,” the ECP said.

It said: “It is legally incorrect to challenge that the ECP failed to check rigging, if committed by any party in the by-elections.”

The ECP said all the parties and their leaders had expressed their confidence on measures taken by it to conduct the general election in free, fair and transparent manner.

About incidents of firing in the air in Sialkot, Gujranwala and Sahiwal during the by-elections, the ECP said the matters were reported to police and FIRs registered, the culprits apprehended and arms recovered.