EC takes notice

ELECTION Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday took notice of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and other senior leaders’ presence and deliverance of speeches at a political gathering in NA-154 Lodhran constituency after the schedule for by-elections had been announced, deeming it a violation of the ECP’s code of conduct. In a notice issued to PTI candidate Ali Tareen, the ECP stated that “political canvassing by public office holders and members of parliaments after the issuance of schedule for by-elections on a seat is a violation of ECP’s code of conduct for political parties”.
Earlier, in the day the District Election Commissioner/Returning Officer of the constituency had issued a warning to the PTI candidate on receipt of reports that a public meeting was being arranged, which was to be addressed by PTI leaders, who are members of parliament. However, showing complete disregard to the notice, PTI leaders Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Murad Saeed and Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid Ahmad addressed the public meeting. This is not for the first time that the code of conduct has been violated contemptuously by some political leaders as in the past too, on a number of occasions, it was trampled deliberately. All violations are regrettable but this one is particularly worrisome as it took place ahead of general election and could be cited as a precedent if the Election Commission failed to take the case to the logical conclusion. Code of Conduct is there to ensure holding of election in peaceful atmosphere but deliberate violations could spoil the overall atmosphere. Political leaders are supposed to be role model and, therefore, they should uphold the rule of law at all costs. You might get some political mileage by violating the code but such incidents send wrong message to people that you do not care about the law and the Constitution. Politicians never get tired of talking about rule of law but unfortunately they themselves seldom care to uphold them despite the fact that laws are framed by them in their capacity as parliamentarians. The Election Commission should convene a meeting of all political parties and get firm guarantees from them that there would be no violations in the general election, otherwise these could be marred by bitterness and tension especially in the given highly polarized atmosphere.

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