ISLAMABAD: ISLAMABAD. Rebuffing speculations about possible delay in the general election, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza has assured the political parties that the polls will be held on July 25, as earlier announced.
He was speaking to representatives of all the mainstream political parties who attended a consultative meeting at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) headquarters on the draft code of conduct on Thursday.
During the huddle, representatives of some political parties drew attention of the CEC about voices that are demanding delay in polls and laid stress on holding the elections on time. The CEC, however, assured them that polls will be held on time. He said the ECP would make sure transparent election.
Those who attended the meeting included Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Zahid Hamid and Khawaja Saad Rafiq from the PML-N, Shafqat Mehmood from the PTI, Farhatullah Babar from the PPP, Ghulam Ahmed Bilor, Zahid Khan, Mian Iftikhar and Bushra Gohar from the ANP, Usman Kakar from the PkMAP, Anisazaib Tahirkheli from the QWP and Liaqat Baloch from the MMA.
Participants of the meeting pressed the ECP to announce election schedule forthwith to dispel uncertainty. Immediately after this huddle, the ECP secretary announced the schedule.
These representatives asked the ECP to enforce code of conduct and to make sure that banned outfits and individuals having affiliation with such organisations should not be allowed to contest elections.
In its draft of the code of conduct for the forthcoming general elections, the ECP has cautioned that use of abusive language against opponents during campaigning would be considered a corrupt practice.
The six-category code, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, outlines rules and regulations the political parties, candidates and election agents have to adhere to during the elections. The categories are general conduct, campaign, publicity, meetings and processions, polling day, and miscellaneous.
Political parties and candidates have been asked to refrain from propagating opinions contrary to the Constitution and ideology of Pakistan. They have also been told to uphold the rights and freedom of the people of Pakistan.
The ECP rules also bar the government or any authority from posting or transferring any official appointed or deputed in connection with polls without prior ECP approval. Failure to abide by the code of conduct and maligning the electoral body in any form whatsoever would entail contempt.
Political parties have been told not to receive money from prospective candidates in the guise of ‘party funds’ as tickets are awarded.
Five per cent tickets must be awarded to women, in line with laws which call for the equal representation of qualified men and women in the legislative bodies of Pakistan. Candidates have been instructed against damaging ballot papers or official documents during the elections.
The ECP has capped the elections expenses per National Assembly seat at Rs4 million, and at Rs2 million per provincial seat. To ensure further transparency, it has bound candidates to open exclusive accounts for this purpose in any bank across Pakistan so their transactions can be monitored.
According to the code of conduct, candidates are required to submit a complete account of the expenses incurred during elections to ECP within ten days of polling.
Political parties have been advised to refrain from influencing print or the electronic media, or resorting to violence of any kind against news outlets.
Public display of firearms has been banned from meetings, processions, and other activities related to the elections. The ban will remain in force until twenty-four hours after the consolidation of the results. The president, caretaker cabinet and other government officials will not take part in election activity.