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Charsadda Election Code Violations Raise Concerns Over Fairness

Mufti Abdul Rauf Shakir, Charsadda Tehsil Chairman and a representative of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, sought votes from the public during a meeting held on Wednesday.
by Rifaqatullah Razarwal - 25 Jan, 2024 1570
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The Election Commission in Charsadda has underscored that candidates violating the issued code of conduct and the Election Act 2017 will face disciplinary action.

Mufti Abdul Rauf Shakir, Charsadda Tehsil Chairman and a representative of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, sought votes from the public during a meeting held on Wednesday. After being elected on the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam ticket in local body elections, Shakir continues to fulfill his responsibilities as Tehsil Chairman.

In his address to the gathering, Mufti Abdul Rauf Shakir emphasized the spotless reputation of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, asserting that no one can substantiate allegations of corruption or treachery against the party. He stated, "In the hearts of my elders, there is no fear of creation but the fear of Allah Almighty." Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam has once again presented its candidates, and Shakir appealed to the public to support and ensure the success of these candidates.

Charsadda District comprises two National Assembly Constituencies, NA 24 and 25, along with five Provincial Assembly Constituencies, PK 62, 63, 63, 65, and 66. Multiple political parties have nominated candidates for these constituencies, setting the stage for a competitive electoral landscape.

In the Charsadda district, fierce competition is anticipated among political entities such as the Awami National Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, independent candidates supported by Tehreek-e-Insaaf, and candidates of Jamaat-e-Islami in selected constituencies.

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District Monitoring Officer (DMO) Sher Rehman, overseeing on behalf of the Election Commission in Charsadda, informed TNN that the Election Commission has issued a code of conduct for the upcoming general election in 2024. According to this code, any government employee or elected representative is prohibited from contesting the election or participating in the campaign; otherwise, strict action will be taken against them.

Clause 18 of the issued Code of Conduct 2024 specifies that individuals such as the President, Prime Minister, Chairman Senate, Deputy Chairman Senate, Speaker, and Deputy Speaker of any Assembly, Federal Ministers, Ministers of State, Governors, Chief Ministers, Provincial Ministers, advisers to the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers, Mayor, Chairman, Nazim, and their deputies are restricted from participating in any election campaign.

DMO Sher Rehman stated, "So far, we have not found any concrete evidence against any government employee or elected representative; if found, we will issue them a show-cause notice and impose a fine of Rs 50,000 for not providing a reasonable reply."

Despite the efforts of political parties to ensure a successful election campaign by adhering to the code of conduct set by the Election Commission, analysts believe that the effectiveness of the Election Commission's actions remains questionable.

Sabz Ali Khan Tareen, the President of Charsadda Press Club and a senior journalist, expressed concerns about government employees and elected officials campaigning for political parties, stating that it adversely impacts opposing parties. Tareen emphasized that these figures hold positions in government offices that directly relate to public issues. People seek their assistance for problem resolution, and the influence of government or elected representatives on voters infringes upon the freedom of the electoral process.

While acknowledging the basic right of every official and elected representative to vote, Tareen pointed out that, according to the rules and instructions of the Election Commission, they are prohibited from soliciting votes for their supported party or engaging in an election campaign.

Tareen criticized the perceived lack of effectiveness in the Election Commission's role, despite having extensive powers. He questioned the rationale behind not utilizing these powers to their full extent. Tareen raised concerns about the Election Commission's performance, citing actions taken against oversized panaflexes and billboards in Charsadda after receiving numerous complaints.

He emphasized the need for the Commission to enforce its instructions promptly, particularly against violations of the code of conduct, to maintain the integrity of free and transparent elections.