ECP to politicians: A little civility, please

Commission also condemns attacks on MQM, calls for stringent security measures; imposes ban on transfers in Sindh.

Irfan Ghauri April 26, 2013
ECP directed all parties and contesting candidates on Friday to strictly adhere to the code of conduct issued for the May 11 polls. PHOTO: FILE


Amidst a rising crescendo of political rhetoric, the election authorities have prohibited political parties and their candidates from launching ‘personal attacks’ against each other.

The media office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) directed all parties and contesting candidates on Friday to strictly adhere to the code of conduct issued for the May 11 polls.

The directive came two days after presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar complained to the chief election commissioner, Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, about the ‘political vilification’ of President Asif Ali Zardari.

The ECP has taken serious notice of some candidates resorting to name-calling and rhetoric against their rivals that could be construed as slander, which is a violation of the code of conduct, the media office said in a statement.

“Parties and candidates shall refrain from criticism of any aspect of private life not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism based on unverified allegations and distortion of facts shall be avoided,” an ECP spokesperson said, quoting a paragraph from the code of conduct.

Under the code, the candidates can criticise other political parties and rivals on the basis of their policies, programmes, past records and their work.

“The political parties, contesting candidates and their supporters shall refrain from deliberate dissemination of false and malicious information and shall not indulge in forgeries and disinformation to defame other political parties/leaders. The use of abusive language against the leaders and candidates shall be avoided at all costs,” the spokesperson said.

The commission hopes political parties and candidates would refrain from indulging in personal attacks that would warrant action by the ECP under the law, he added.

ECP decries attacks on MQM

In a separate statement, the ECP denounced the April 25 bomb attack on Muttahida Quami Movement’s polling office in Karachi and also condemned the killing and kidnapping of its members.

“The commission has, therefore, unanimously condemned the incident and termed it a failure of the government contrary to the assurances given regarding maintenance of law and order in their respective provinces,” it said.

In light of the recent attacks on political parties and their candidates in Sindh, the commission has once again directed the Sindh government to adopt stringent measures to provide foolproof security to them, particularly in Karachi, the ECP spokesperson added.

Ban on postings, transfers in Sindh

Separately, the ECP once again ordered a ban on postings and transfers in Sindh after receiving complaints that its directives to reshuffle the bureaucracy were being abused.

The commission lifted on March 28 the ban it had first imposed on January 21, in which it had directed the caretaker governments to transfer all federal and provincial secretaries, inspectors general of police and other high-ranking officials who could influence the polls. After the ban was lifted, numerous postings and transfers were made at the federal and provincial level. The ECP received a number of complaints, especially from Sindh, about transfers being made on political grounds which could affect the impartiality of the electoral process.

“In exercise of the powers conferred upon it under Article 218(3) of the Constitution and all other powers enabling it in that behalf, the election commission has re-considered the matter and has directed that there will be a complete ban on transfers and postings of officers and officials of the federal, provincial and local governments posted in the province of Sindh,” a notification read.

In case of any exigency of service, prior approval of the commission shall be obtained before any postings and transfers of any officers and officials is made, the notification concluded.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2013.


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