The Election Commission of Pakistan(ECP) has barred Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif from taking part in his own poll campaign for a by-election to the National Assembly seat vacated by his elder brother and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
According to a report in Dawn, the ECP has issued a code of conduct that bars many constitutional dignitaries including the president, the prime minister and provincial chief ministers from visiting the area of any constituency that is going to polls.
The code of conduct came into effect immediately after the ECP announced the election schedule for Lahore National Assembly seat (NA-120) that fell vacant after the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif. The polling for this seat has been scheduled for Sept 17.
“After the issuance of schedule of by-election, the president, prime minister, chairman and deputy chairman senate, speakers of assemblies, federal ministers, ministers of slate, governor, chief minister, provincial ministers and advisers to the prime minister and the chief minister, members of the national and provincial assemblies and other public office-holders will neither visit the area of any constituency nor shall openly or in secret give any subscription or donation or make promise for giving such subscription or donation to any institution of a constituency, nor shall inaugurate, commit to undertake or announce any development project therein for the advancement of the campaign of a candidate of his choice and thereby influence the results of election,” the code of conduct issued by the ECP said.
Terming the code of conduct “confusing”, political observers in Pakistan wondered how the holder of a public office could be barred from taking part in his own election campaign even though the law permitted a legislator to contest election for another house without tendering resignation.
The report quoted a senior ECP official as saying that a clear picture would emerge after Shehbaz Sharif files his nomination papers for NA-120 by-elections.
A senior official of the ECP said a clear picture would emerge after the submission of nomination papers by Shahbaz Sharif for the by-election to NA-120.
“This is a unique situation because if the chief minister of Punjab files nomination papers, he will not be campaigning for somebody else but for himself and this right can in no way be taken away from him,” he said.
He also added that the code of conduct might be amended by the commission if the sitting chief minister’s candidature was accepted.
Ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif had announced his brother Shehbaz as his successor. Since Shehbaz is presently not a member of the National Assembly, Nawaz Sharif’s party PML-N elected Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the interim prime minister till the time the Punjab chief minister is elected to the National Assembly.