CODE OF CONDUCT Lahore/Karachi/Islamabad: As election approaches, parties and candidates have geared up their campaigns in major cities. reviewed campaign material displayed in selected constituencies in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, finding various violations of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct by most major political parties. ECP spokesperson Altaf Ahmad said that until last Thursday the commission had issued 50 show cause notices to violators across the country. In addition, he said, the commission lodged two FIRs and issued 22 warnings to contenders of different political parties for violating canvassing rules. The authorities concerned removed 322 billboards and hoardings; 2,874 oversized banners, portraits, and posters; 9,210 panaflex and wall chalking at 21 locations. Meanwhile in Lahore, candidates of different political parties have been seen using prohibited public property, including electricity poles and bridge fences, to publicity banners, posters and flexes. These violations have been observed in almost all parts of the city from Shahdara to Thokhar Niaz Beg as well as in Defense Housing Authority (DHA), Walton Cantonment, Garhi Shahu, Mughalpura, Dharampura, areas along Jail Road and Ferozpur Road. PTI campaign team in Karachi’s DHA uses a truck to display campaign material (a), An oversized banner has been displayed in a neighbhourhood in Lahore (b), Authorities in Karachi South district have torn a panaflex pasted on the facade of a building (c), PML-N campaign team also uses a truck to display its campaign material in Karachi (d). On Friday, a letter issued by the office of the Deputy Commissioner, also serving as the District Monitoring Officer for elections, cited the Election Act of 2017 and stated that ‘use of public property including electricity poles, bridge fences for the display of banners, flexes, steamers and other publicity media is strictly banned, and if such property is used for publicity by any political party, it shall be tantamount to a violation of the code of conduct’. In the letter, the DC has directed the director generals of the Lahore Development Authority, and the Parks and Horticulture Authority as well as the Chief Corporation Officer of the Municipal Corporation of Lahore to remove all the publicity material displayed on public property. Even where the material is displayed on sanctioned places, there are instances of violations of the prescribed size for banners and posters. In addition, none of these oversized banners and posters reviewed across the city mention the name and address of the printer and publisher – a requirement under the ECP’s code of conduct. Prescribed sizes The Campaign Monitoring Handbook issued by the ECP has specified that the size of posters cannot be more than 2-feet x 3-feet. Hoardings cannot be more than 3-feet x 5-feet, while banners must be within the limits of 3-feet x 9-feet. For the leaflets and handbills, the prescribed size is 9-inches x 6-inches. In several places in the Defence Housing Authority and Gulberg, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf has bought airtime on LED screens displayed for the purposes of commercial advertisements by civic authorities. In DHA Phase III and phase V (that fall in NA-131 constituency from where PTI chairman Imran Khan is contesting the election against Saad Rafique), several oversized hoardings, and billboards of Aleem Khan and Imran Khan can be seen on both sides of the roads. None of these have the names of the printer/publisher mentioned on them. There are hardly any places in the DHA and Cantonment where one can come across PML-N’s publicity material. Meanwhile, show cause notices issued to parties and candidates for violation of the code of conduct were withdrawn on Saturday after Lahore district returning officer (DRO) Abid Hussain Qureshi, along with DMO Capt (retd) Anwarul Haq, chaired a meeting of candidates of different political parties to apprise them of the code of conduct for the publicity material. The violators were, however, warned that strict action would be taken against them if they continued violating the code. Separately, Assistant Commissioner (City) Safdar Virk carried out raids at different printing and publishing houses on Multan Road near Scheme Mor, and in Lakshami Chowk and Samanabad areas, directing businesses not to print banners in violation with the ECP’s code. Speaking to , Malik Waheed, a PML-N candidate in PP-156, complained that only PML-N’s banners were being removed ‘by some aliens despite the fact that we have followed the prescribed sizes’. He said PTI’s oversized banners had not been removed from his constituency near Ring Road areas. In several places in Lahore’s Defence Housing Authority and Gulberg areas, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf has bought airtime on LED screens displayed for commercial advertisements Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) provincial spokesperson Huda Ali Gohar agreed that violations of the code of conduct were rampant in the province. She said monitoring teams were present in the field to report violations to the ECP authorities at the district level. “Only the DRO concerned has the authority to take action against the violators,” she said. In Karachi, ECP monitoring officers, with the help of police, on Saturday removed oversized banners of different political parties and candidates displayed on buildings in the South district in violation of the code of conduct. These banners were removed from Defence Housing Authority, Clifton, Saddar and Boat basin areas. In Clifton and Saddar, observed PTI and PML-N candidates using prohibited panaflexes displayed on the sides of campaign vans and trucks driving around in the area. When contacted, Karachi South district election commissioner (DEC) Muhammad Samiullah said his staff was vigilant and they would proceed against the violators whenever they were caught. “We have issued notices to PPP and MQM-Pakistan for violating code of conduct for elections. Notices will be issued to other violators as well.” In Korangi, the ECP staff started distributing the code of conduct to political parties at a ceremony held on Saturday. “We have not issued any notices yet, as the code of conduct has just been distributed, but we will certainly issue notices if any violation of code of conduct is reported,” said Javed Mirani, the returning officer in the Korangi district Rehmat Mehsud contributed reporting from Islamabad Published in Daily Times, July 8th 2018.