Election Commission of Pakistan Thursday decided to move briskly and act strictly on violations of the Code of Conduct as well as the directives of the Chief Election Commissioner.
The Commission is also poised to exercise the powers regarding contempt of court against any government functionary violating the Code of Conduct and the directive issued time to time to hold elections in free, fair, transparent and impartial manner.
“Yes, the Commission has the powers of contempt of court and shall exercise across the board,” said Secretary Election Commission, Ishtiak Ahmed Khan when asked at the news conference held after a meeting at the Commission.
“Even the contempt powers can be exercised against the top government functionaries at the federal and provincial level,” the Secretary said when asked again specifically mentioning the office of the top government functionaries.
After announcement of election schedule no political personality shall visit constituencies of election. Not even the Prime Minister or the Chief Ministers or Federal or Provincial Ministers or the Advisors, Ishtiak said.
“Such activities shall be noticed and action be taken in accordance with the law,” he added.
Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Hamid Ali Mirza had convened the meeting of federal Interior Minister, Home Ministers, Chief Secretaries and Home Secretaries to formulate a strategy for implementation of the directives and check violation of the code of conduct.
“The Commission was receiving numerous complaints regarding violation of the Code and Conduct as well as poor law and order situation at certain constituencies during the recent by-polls,” the Secretary informed.
These complaints pertained to development projects during electioneering, violation of the polling premises and holding rallies and processions as well as influencing the voters by the provincial and the federal minister and other functionaries during the election campaigns, he said.
Mentioning to other important decisions agreed at the Committee, Ishtiak Khan said, the decisions were agreed unanimously to ensure that the ECP freely performs its duty.
“The participants agreed to ensure peace and law and order during the election process, not to launch or inaugurate any development scheme, no transfers posting after announcement of schedule for certain constituency and all staffers performing duties on election day must be on disposal of ECP or the Returning Officers,” the Secretary elaborated.
He said the Commission is also ensuring that the officers designated with Magisterial Powers shall exercise the same. “It is astonishing that despite numerous complaints against the polling or election process, nobody ever exercised Magisterial powers.”
He said the meeting was another step forward towards empowering the Election Commission and making it fully exercise its powers as well as reminding provinces of their duties to this constitutional obligation.
“It has also been decided that the ECP shall be able to ask services of FC, Rangers and Pak Army other than police and law enforcing agencies,” the Secretary said.
It was also decided that if any time an election official exercise Magisterial powers, other provincial government official shall ensure the implementation, he added.
He said even already scheduled inauguration of schemes shall be postponed till the completion of election process.
It was also proposed that nobody shall carry arms even up to one kilometer away from the polling stations.
To another query, he said, the representatives of the federal and provincial governments agreed to early completion of the Commission constitution.
“In case of violation of the directives, the Chief Secretaries and the Home Secretaries shall be answerable,” he said.
When asked there had been adhocism, the Secretary said, the meeting was meant to ensure that no violation is committed in future. “Now, the powers shall be exercised and those not exercising powers designated to them, shall be deemed as negligence.”
He said the ECP was committed to its constitutional obligations and shall employ all resources to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country.