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ISLAMABAD: The district administration in Islamabad has so far removed over three thousand banners and posters of candidates in the city which violated the prescribed rules.
However, candidates have criticized that the district administration was allegedly favoring certain parties.
The discussion stirred as candidates from the three constituencies in Islamabad met with the District Returning Officer Suhail Nasir. Meeting at the Convention Centre, the latter explained the code of conduct drafted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to the candidates.
Noting that they were divided into three parts, he said that the first part of the code covered general election activity including election campaigns, gatherings and rallies.
“Sticking posters on someone’s wall without their permission is prohibited. Banners should contain the name of the printer and any banner without the printers’ name will be taken down,” Nasir explained.
Clarifying that they were not working in a partisan manner, Nasir detailed that they had removed 1,014 banners of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), 980 of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), 1,224 of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) candidate Mian Aslam, and 350 of independent candidate Saima.
The second phase covers the conduct of political agent.
During the meeting, Nasir said that they were not afraid of any ‘unidentified people’ attempting to exert their influence over their work. He also dismissed the hand of some ‘alien force’.
He declared that if he feels he is unable to discharge his duties honestly, he will give up his role.
Nasir stressed candidates to strictly adhere to the code of conduct and that action will be taken against violators. He reminded them that the code had been prepared by the ECP and that the district administration was merely responsible for implementing it.
In this regard, the DRO said that their monitoring teams were working in the capital.
IG Islamabad Jan Mohammad said that all candidates have copies of the code of conduct,
hence, it was important they implement it.
Candidates urged the DRO to adopt a judicious attitude. Asking the DRO to treat candidates of all parties alike, the claimed that leniency was being shown to some parties.
Moreover, they said that the age of making cloth banners has passed, especially with the adoption of technology to print banners on plastic panaflex. The latter is also easier to install and dismantle. They urged that the code of conduct — which stipulates banners to be made of cloth — to be altered to this extent.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan — who is contesting from NA-53— representative Fareed Khan contended that cloth banners of Imran and PTI NA-54 candidate Asad Umer have also been removed. He further complained that only banners of PTI have been removed.
NA-52 candidate Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry said that a few laws are either outdated or not implementable anymore. He urged the district administration to cooperate with the candidate a little to consider practical issues.
He further asked why can they not display licenced firearms and what is the policy about that?
Noting that while there could be no compromise on the size of banners affixed by the ECP, he suggested that he will be advising the ECP on the cost of these banners.
Nasir said that while the public exhibition of all weapons is prohibited, a candidate can keep a licenced weapon if they fear for their security.
Representatives of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik (who had staged a three-week-long sit-in near the Faizabad interchange late last year) boycotted the meeting, claiming that banners of only their party were being removed and they were being discriminated against in terms of publication of advertisements.
The candidates demanded that the district authority lift Section 144. The Islamabad chief commissioner, however, reminded candidates that Section 144 — restricting movement and assembly — had been imposed keeping in view multiple sit-ins staged by different groups.