KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued show-cause notices to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and other party leaders for visiting Larkana's PS-11 constituency ahead of a by-poll scheduled for October 17.
Bilawal had visited Larkana on Saturday to lead the election campaign of PPP candidate, Jamil Soomro for the by-election in the Sindh Assembly constituency PS-11.
The PPP chairman addressed rallies in Nazar Mohalla and Pakistan Chowk areas of Larkana.
As per paragraph 17 of the ECP's Code of Conduct, no member of parliament can visit a constituency where by-elections are scheduled after the dates for the election have been notified.
Paragraph 17 states, "The president, prime minister, chairman and deputy chairman of Senate, speaker and deputy speaker of provincial and national assemblies, members of Senate or an assembly, federal ministers, ministers of the state, governors, chief ministers, provincial ministers and advisers to the prime minister and chief ministers, mayors, nazims and their deputies and other public officer holders shall not participate in election campaign in any manner."
In its notification dated October 12, the ECP directed the PPP chairperson to submit a response within a day of receiving the notice and warned that failing to do so would result in disciplinary action under Sections 167 and 234 of Elections Act 2017, read with Rule 171 of Election Rules.
"Being a member of the National Assembly, you were fully aware about the announcement of the schedule for the by-election," the notification read.
Notices bearing the same instructions were sent to other PPP leaders who visited Larkana, including Nisar Khuhro, Sharjeel Memon, Syed Nasir Shah, Khursheed Ahmed Junejo, Sohail Anwar Siyal and others.
The ECP had announced by-polls in PS-11 after Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA's) Moazzam Abbasi was de-seated by the Supreme Court in August.
The PPP chairman visited Larkana on Saturday and criticised the economic policies of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and maintained that whenever PPP came to power it created jobs across the country.
"Even during the time when the world was experiencing a severe economic recession, the PPP government, led by former president Asif Ali Zardari, took many initiatives for the welfare of the people, including Benazir Income Support Programme," he said.
Bilawal said the PPP government negotiated over a financial assistance deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) but did not compromise on the interests of poor people. He noted that PPP raised the salaries and pensions of government employees by 100% at a time when the country was going through a difficult financial situation.
He said PPP fought against the military regimes of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf, adding, "It is PPP which will send this [PTI-led] puppet government packing".
He said he had confidence that the people of the area would vote for the PPP's candidate in the October 17 by-election.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2019.