ECP continues preparations sans legislation

Issues code of conduct for election observers, media

Danish Hussain June 30, 2015
The ECP on Monday issued a code of conduct for observers and the media for the polls, scheduled to be held on July 25. PHOTO: FIlE

ISLAMABAD: Although uncertainty prevails over the local government (LG) elections in Islamabad due to the lack of mandatory legislation, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s preparations are in full swing.

The ECP on Monday issued a code of conduct for observers and the media for the polls, scheduled to be held on July 25.

Parliamentarians have dubbed ECP preparations “unconstitutional” and “unlawful” as the legislation — the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill, 2015 — is yet to be passed by the Senate and thus, they maintained, the elections lack legal cover.

ECP, on its part, says it has been following a Supreme Court judgment of March 4, 2015 that binds the commission to hold LG polls in Islamabad on the basis of “contents of the unapproved bill” provided the required legislation is not approved in the given time. The ECP has also petitioned the apex court requesting it to order the government either to expedite passage of the bill or issue an ordinance for the LG polls.

In its petition, the ECP noted that during hearing of the case on March 4, 2015, the attorney general of Pakistan had assured the court that the bill was in final stages and was likely to be passed during the then forthcoming session of Parliament.

The petition said the federal government had unnecessarily delayed passing of the bill, which it said amounted to defiance of the court.

The election body formally submitted the petition with to the Supreme Court on Monday. However, no date has so far been fixed by the court to hear the case.

ECP spokesperson Khurshid Alam said the commission would publish around four million ballot papers for 620,165 registered voters in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Code of conduct

A code of conduct for local and foreign observers says all national and international observers should adhere to the country’s laws and respect election officials and state authorities and maintain a “respectful attitude towards them”.

The observers will have the right to ask questions but cannot interfere in the polling process. Impartiality is required and observers have been asked to refrain from activity that may project approval of one political party over another.

The media’s code of conduct says no organisation can publish or broadcast anything that adversely affects public opinion against a particular candidate. It says media should also refrain from disseminating information about a political party or candidate not supported by “cogent evidence”.

Media has also been asked to rely on official results to be issued by ECP’s presiding or returning officers.

PEMRA has been asked to ensure compliance of the ECP’s code.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.


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