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July 11, 2018

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ECP suspends LB heads till 25th

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) suspended Tuesday all mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice-chairmen of all local government bodies across Pakistan till July 25.

Similarly, the ECP also suspended local bodies’ officials include the chiefs of the Cantonment boards across the country. The ECP explained the action had been taken to ensure free and fair elections. The responsibilities have been shifted to the provincial interim governments for carrying out day-to-day affairs of local bodies (LB).

Moreover, the ECP said that the security officer, managing three-four polling stations, had been given a first-class magistrate powers.

In a notification issued here, the ECP said that each designated officer in-charge of armed forces deployed for security at polling stations shall exercise power of magistrate first class. It said deployment of armed forces shall be made for provision of secure environment in conduct of election in free, fair, and transparent manner. The ECP said military troops will be deployed inside and outside all the polling stations from July 23 to July 27. “Armed forces have been given responsibility to made foolproof security arrangements during the printing, stacking and storage of ballot papers. Armed forces shall provide security during transportation of ballot papers and other materials from printing presses to respective polling stations and back to district treasuries or ECP’s strong rooms,” it said.

The notification said the armed forces shall also deploy sufficient number of mobile vigilance teams, Quick Reaction Force and reserves in all constituencies to provide secure environment. The notification reads that the security staff deployed on a polling station is supposed to first report to the presiding officer, then officer in-charge, and returning officers concerned respectively if he finds any irregularity or malpractice during the election process.

Meanwhile, the ECP rebutted a media report that the military personnel would have a role in result transmission, saying presiding officers would only be responsible for transmission of results after tabulation through result transmission system to the concerned returning officers and the ECP.

The ECP explained that the security personnel have only such role as para 14 of the Code of Conduct suggests that they would provide peaceful environment at polling stations so that the presiding officers could easily transmit election results in the presence of candidates or their agents.

Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan expressed his ‘annoyance’ at the monetary impact of repeated changes in ballot papers due to court rulings with regards to candidates.

A five-member bench of the ECP, headed by Chief Election Commissioner heard a petition filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for the allotment of the party’s electoral symbol, ‘Tiger’, to Maryam Nawaz’ covering candidates. The PML-N lawyers had also filed a similar petition for NA-146 Pakpattan to Rana Zahid’s covering candidate, his son Rana Iradat, after the former was disqualified to contest polls from the constituency.

Ali Pervaiz is contesting the polls from NA-127 constituency and Irfan Khokhar will represent PML-N from PP-173 constituency, following Maryam’s disqualification from contesting the polls by an accountability court.

During the hearing, PML-N lawyers presented their arguments before the bench. They contended that sub-section 3 of the Elections Act 2017’s Clause 4 states that the covering candidate is allotted the party’s electoral symbol.

The lawyers also informed the court that names of both covering candidates were written on Form 33 submitted to the Election Commission by Maryam from both constituencies. They pleaded the electoral body to review the Form 33 from both NA-127 and PP-173 constituencies. “Till what time will Form 33 be changed?” remarked a member of the Sindh Division of Election Commission. Moreover, chief election commissioner talked about the expense involved in the printing of ballot papers. He maintained, “The printing of ballot papers commenced on July 1; watermarked ballot papers are very expensive. Why don’t the high courts consider the burden of monetary expenditure on the Commission.” He continued that the printing process will not be completed if the trend of court ruling continues. “If a few similar rulings are announced, we will run out of ballot papers,” he said.

The bench then reserves its verdict on the PML-N petition. Afterwards, the bench announced the verdict, accepting PML-N’s petition. The electoral body accepted PML-N’s request to review Form 33 from NA-127, PP-173, and NA-146.

The ECP has issued a notice to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for using foul language in party’s advertisement campaign. An ECP spokesperson said use of derogatory language was a violation of election code of conduct. He maintained punitive measures would be taken if the use of immoral language was not stopped.

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