The Election Commission of Pakistan has barred PTI Chairman Imran Khan from campaigning for his party’s candidates in by-elections in three constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies.
Through a notification, the ECP has modified its earlier notifications issued to bar public office-holders from influencing in any way the results of by-polls to be held on June 8 in NA-108 (Mandi Bahauddin) and PP-196 (Multan) in Punjab and PK-56 (Mansehra) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
To the surprise of many, probably for the first time in the country’s electoral history, the modified notification includes members of national and provincial assemblies in the list of public office-holders barred from visiting the constituencies after announcement of the election schedule. Talking to Dawn, senior PTI leader Dr Arif Alvi said: “The decision is surprising and must be reviewed by the ECP.” There should be a ban on announcement of development schemes after publication of election schedule, but such a restriction for members of the assemblies was unheard of, he added.
Dr Alvi said that a one-to-one electoral battle was likely between the candidates of the ruling PML-N and PTI in the constituencies and the decision was strange. Others who will be affected by the decision include JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmad Sherpao. According to the modified notification, the president, prime minister, chairman and deputy chairman of the Senate, speakers of national and provincial assemblies, federal and provincial ministers, governors, chief ministers, advisers to the prime minister and the chief ministers,
Members of national and provincial assemblies or any person on their behalf and other public office holders will not visit any constituency or a polling station after the announcement of the election schedule till the completion of poll. Besides, they will not openly or secretly give any donation or promise to give a donation to an institution in a constituency, nor will inaugurate, commit to undertake or announce any development project for the advancement of the campaign of a candidate of their choice. By-election in NA-108 is taking place after disqualification of Chaudhry Ejaz for possessing a fake degree and concealing assets.
By-election in PK-56 is being held after disqualification of Waheeduz Zaman of PML-N after his resignation from basic membership of the party. He had resigned after being accused of violating the party discipline by proposing and seconding candidates not belonging to the party in recent elections of the Senate. By-election in PP-196 is taking place in the wake of disqualification of PML-N lawmaker Chaudhry Abdul Waheed for possessing two computerised national identity cards.