The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), largely considered toothless in the past, may be baring a new set of sharp dentures. The commission on Wednesday issued an amended code of conduct for election campaigns, for an interim period, prescribing punishments that could ultimately lead to disqualification of violators. The new code of conduct, formulated on the directives of a Supreme Court decision earlier this month, will be a test case for the ECP in the by-polls in NA-151, vacated due to the disqualification of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Polling for the seat will be held on July 19.
The apex court, in its June 8 verdict on a petition against widespread corruption in the electioneering process, had empowered the ECP to enact its own rules and ensure implementation of existing laws. According to the ECP officials, the code of conduct will serve for the interim period, for all subsequent by-polls, till a final code is prepared for the general elections. The ECP is planning to hold a consultative meeting with political parties by mid-July in this regard.