Taking notice of allegations of rigging across the country, particularly in Karachi, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked district returning officers and provincial election commissioners to submit reports in this regard by evening today (Tuesday).
Talking to reporters after a meeting, ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan said that the date for re-elections in 43 polling stations of NA-250 Karachi would be announced soon. The commission had withheld polling at these stations following massive irregularities.
There also were reports of rigging in some other polling stations of Karachi, he added. Returning officers and provincial election commissioners have been asked to submit their reports in this regard, he added.
Khan said if someone in other constituencies across the country had any evidence of rigging, they could approach the commission. He added that the ECP had already notified tribunals in all provinces to hear post-election petitions. Five tribunals in Punjab and three each in other three provinces have been set up to analyse rigging complaints. Under the new law, these tribunals have to make decisions on petitions within 120 days.
Meanwhile, the ECP has asked successful candidates to submit details of their campaign expenses before May 21. Under the law, a candidate for National Assembly has to limit his election expenses to Rs1.5million, while provincial assembly candidates have a limit of Rs1million. These limits, however, are considered irrational and are rarely followed.
The ECP had directed contestants to open separate bank accounts for election expenses and meet all election expenses through it.
Under the law, “Election expenses means any expenditure incurred before, during and after an election or payment made, whether by way of gift, loan, advance, deposit or otherwise, for the arrangements, conduct or benefit of, or in connection with, or incidental to, the election of a candidate including the expenditure on account of issuing circulars or publications, aims or objects, but does not include the security deposit required to be made, under section 13 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976,” the ECP notification added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2013.