News Analysis |
Almost after one week, Pakistan is going to ensure the second consecutive democratic transition. Amidst all controversies and challenges, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has remained firm and focused on principles. The ECP and caretaker set-up have repeatedly ensured political parties and public that the upcoming general elections shall be free and fair.
The ECP has issued a list which may be termed as ‘ECP’s code of conduct’. The list addresses voters, candidates and officers on duty.
According to the notification, anyone found involved in the following acts will be treated as having violated the ECP’s code of conduct and to be prosecuted against under the law:
- Evicting a voter from the polling station.
- Any direct or indirect attempt to influence a voter in connection with his or her decision to cast or to not cast a vote, either through giving a gift, making an offer or promise will be considered bribery.
- Using force or violence to coerce someone into casting or not casting a vote.
- Intimidation, inflicting harm or threatening someone with the anger or approval of a religious personality.
- Abducting a voter, intimidating, duping or influencing him or her through illegal means.
- Spoiling ballot paper or the official stamp.
- Taking ballot papers from a polling station or inserting fake ballot papers in the ballot box.
- Providing a ballot paper to someone without permission, lifting ballot papers or boxes, breaking the seal on a ballot box, disturbing polling staffers, affecting the polling process with the help of a government official, any attempt to cast a fake vote, or cast multiple votes.
- Showing or possessing firearms during polling process, torturing officials, creating disruptions near a polling station to disturb voters, attempts to affect the working of a presiding officer or other staffers, and convincing a voter to vote for a particular candidate within 400 meters of a polling station.
- Pasting a notice, electoral sign or flag within 100 meter radius of a polling station or within the special area allotted to election agents.
- Attempting to know for whom a voter has cast his or her vote.
- Attempting to take a picture of your vote/ballot paper.
A District Returning Officer will have the authority to sentence offenders to up to three years in jail, or Rs 100, 000 in fines, or both. The ECP has issued these directions to ensure free, fair and transparent general election on July 25. But despite the efforts being made by the ECP, there are some political groups and media houses which are certain to make the upcoming polls controversial.
The controversy generates by the politicians and media persons will help these political groups challenge the legitimacy of the government after July 25. Caretakers are making all possible efforts to ensure their impartiality and neutrality during the electoral process. Yet some parties have their own narratives, interests and way to follow. Pakistan’s general elections are a test for the caretakers and public to ensure smooth transfer of power.