In a major step towards ensuring fair and transparent conduct of upcoming general elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) suspended on Tuesday all mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice-chairmen of all local government bodies across the country.
Moreover, the suspended local bodies’ officials include the chiefs of the cantonment boards across the country as well. The ECP said the action has been taken to ensure free and fair elections. General elections are set to be held across Pakistan on July 25.
The election watchdog has been tasked to make arrangements necessary to ensure that the “election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against,” said a notification issued by the ECP on Tuesday.
The decision has been taken to prevent any action on the part of the local government institutions that amounts to influence the results of upcoming general elections by depriving candidates from having level playing field, the commission added. The announcement was made hours after representatives of political parties expressed reservations over unnecessary restrictions imposed by the ECP and caretaker government regarding their election campaigns
The commission had earlier transferred civil servants across the country in order to ensure that no bureaucrat is able to exert influence during the pre-poll and poll process.
Moreover, the ECP issued a notification Tuesday stating that the army officials deployed for polling duty have been given powers of a first-class magistrate.
Earlier, military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor informed the media that the army will be assisting the ECP in the conduct of polls from a security perspective. He informed further that more than 370,000 troops, including recently retired reservists, will take part in security duties. Two troops will be deployed inside the polling stations and as many outside in the over-85,000 polling stations across the country.