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June 21, 2019

Visit of Ghotki ahead of NA-205 by-poll: ECP issues notices to PM, two ministers, Sindh governor

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June 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a show-cause notice to Prime Minister Imran Khan for visiting Ghotki ahead of the NA-205 by-election, to be held on July 18.

According to the Election Commission Media Wing, notices have also been issued to Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza, Minister for Privatisation and Aviation Muhammad Mian Soomro and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail. All three belong to Sindh as well.

According to the ECP, a complaint against the high-profile visit was registered by Abdul Bari Pitafi, who is also a candidate from the same constituency. He had pointed out that Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Ghotki was in violation of the ECP code of conduct, as the schedule for the by-election had already been notified.

In the show-cause notice, the prime minister has been given one week to submit a reply regarding the matter.

Prime Minister Imran paid a visit to Ghotki to condole the death of federal minister for narcotics control Ali Muhammad Mahar. The National Assembly seat of NA-205 constituency, Ghotki had fallen vacant as a consequent of his demise. The Election Commission had accordingly issued a schedule for bye-election to fill this seat.

Media reports said that prime minister had held out an assurance to the Maher family that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would not be allowed to rig the by-election and that he would issue directives to the authorities concerned to ensure it.

According to Para 17(b) of the Election Commission code of conduct, no member of the Parliament can visit a constituency where by-elections are scheduled after the dates for the election have been notified.

The regional election commissioner said in the notice that being a member of the Parliament and holding the chair of Prime Minister of Pakistan, you were fully aware about the announcement of the schedule for bye-election, which requires that you cannot visit the constituency in any manner whatsoever after announcement of the poll schedule

PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also accused the prime minister of violating the ECP rules. “The visit of the prime minister to National Assembly’s constituency 205 is rigging,” Khokhar, PPP chairman’s spokesperson, had said.

He had called upon the ECP to take notice of what he called interference of the prime minister and federal ministers in election affairs. “If the Election Commission wants to protect its image from further deterioration, it should take action over the violation,” he contended.