ECP warns Imran against addressing rally


ECP warns Imran against addressing rally ISLAMABAD: Taking notice of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s plans to address a rally in Taxila on September 23, ahead of the by-election for the PP-7 provincial assembly seat, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked the district administration to ensure that electoral laws and the code of conduct are implemented in letter and spirit.

ECP Additional Secretary Fida Mohammad told Dawn the action was taken on the basis of a complaint, filed by a contesting candidate, as well as ECP’s own information about the planned show.

He said information received by the ECP suggested that the PTI planned to organise a public meeting in Taxila on Sept 23 and had announced that it would be addressed by party chief Imran Khan. The by-elections in the constituency are scheduled to take place on Sept 26.

Another ECP official told Dawn the electoral code of conduct clearly bars the prime minister, chief minister, federal ministers, state ministers, advisors to the president and prime minister, provincial ministers, advisors to the chief minister and members of the national and provincial assemblies from visiting a constituency or a polling station after the issuance of the schedule of by elections, until polling is completed.

Under electoral rules, no MNA can campaign for candidates after announcement of poll schedule

“Imran Khan, being a member of the National Assembly, cannot take part in the campaign for his party’s candidates,” the official remarked. He stressed that any violation of the directive issued by the ECP shall be proceeded under Article 204 of the Constitution, read with section 103 A of the Representation of People Act (Ropa) 1976.

The provincial assembly seat fell vacant due to the death of PTI’s Siddique Khan. PML-N’s Umar Farooq and PTI’s Ammar Siddique Khan are in the run this time and a tough electoral battle is expected. While the PTI wants to retain its seat, the PML-N is also striving to clinch the constituency. Observers say the by-election would be a popularity test for both parties in the region.

Many are seeing it as a battle between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and PTI MNA Ghulam Sarwar Khan, whose popularity graph has only gone up since he quit the PML-Q and joined PTI.

Both the Haji Dildar group, which has a strong voter-base in the northern part of the rural area and contested the 2013 elections from the PPP platform, as well as the Faisal Iqbal group, which contested the 2008 general elections as independents, have thrown their weight behind PML-N’s Umer Farooq.

Meanwhile, Syed Riaz Shah – who holds the vote bank of the Saadat family – has parted ways with the PML-N and aligned with the PTI. The local Jamaat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chapter president Hakim Mohammad Saad and general secretary Afzal Janjua have also announced their support for the PML-N.

The Jamaat-i-Islami has announced its support for the PTI candidate and the PTI claims to have support of other groups as well.


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