In what appeared to be a quite positive development, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a 49-point code of conduct for general elections, warning the contestants to abide by rules and regulations or face disqualification.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (Retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim cautioned, “Only talks are not enough to keep the contestants in limits. Strict action would be taken on violation of the code of conduct.”

He chaired a meeting of the election commission which was attended by the four provincial election commissioners and other officials of the EC.

The meeting discussed the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan pertaining to the election in South Waziristan. The ECP also decided to double the remuneration of the polling staff.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a 49-point code of conduct for political parties and candidates for the upcoming general elections.

Secretary Election Commission Ishtiaq Ahmad told media that the code of conduct would be sent to political parties for revision and feedback to further improve the current draft.

The code of conduct restricts political parties and candidates from propagating any opinion, or act in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan.

It further restricts them from propagating anything prejudicial to morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, as provided under Article 63 of the Constitution.

According to the draft, “Political parties and candidates shall not propagate any opinion, or act in any manner prejudicial to … the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan, as provided under Article 63 of the Constitution.”

It adds that political parties and candidates shall restrain their workers from exerting undue pressure on the print and electronic media, including newspaper offices and printing presses, or resorting to violence of any kind against the media.

It further says that holders of public office, including the president and prime minister, shall not combine their official visits with the election campaign. This provision will also be applicable to the caretaker setup

The political parties contesting candidates and their supporters shall not indulge in offering gifts or gratifications or inducement to any person to stand or not to stand as a candidate, or to withdraw or not to withdraw his candidature.

Political parties, contesting candidates and their supporters may announce their overall development programme, but not after the announcement of the election schedule till the day of polling. In addition, no candidate or any person on his behalf will give or promise to give any subscription or donation to any institution.

Candidates and their supporters shall refrain from deliberate dissemination of false and malicious information. The workers of political parties shall not indulge in forgeries and disinformation to defame other political parties or leaders.

Criticism of other political parties and opponent candidates cannot target anyone’s private life, it added.

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