The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has deployed coordinators in more than 250 constituencies across the country to observe all aspects of the election process. These observers send weekly reports to the FAFEN Secretariat based in Islamabad, which uses the information to raise the issues with various stakeholders with a view to improving the quality of electoral processes.
The following provisional report is based on the information received from more than 100 constituencies from the following districts.
|Sr. No.||Province||Number of Districts||Name of Districts|
|1.||Punjab||19||Dera Ghazi Khan, Lahore, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, Attock, Chakwal, Khushab, Jhang, Sahiwal, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Okara, Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Mianwali, Toba Tek Singh, Khanewal, Kasur and Faisalabad|
|2.||NWFP||12||Batagram, Bannu, Haripur, Karak, Kohat, Malakand, Peshawar, Tank, Charsadda, Hangu Mardan and Chitral|
|3.||Sindh||8||Dadu, Ghotki, Karachi, Khairpur, Sukkur, Shikarpur Tando Muhammad Khan and Thatta|
|4.||Balochistan||5||Ketch-Turbat, Nushki, Jaffarabad, Gwadar, Nasirabad|
While these regular reports will be covering various aspects of the election processes, this report emphasizes role of Nazims and local government officials’ vis-a-vis the campaign and processes for the upcoming elections.
- Partisan Nazims
Despite the provisions of the Local Government Ordinance 2000 as well as the spirit of the ECP Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Contesting Candidates for General Elections 2008 (Article 1(17)) and Section 83 of the Representation of the People Act 1976), Nazims of all three tiers of the local governments in observed districts are reported to have been taking politically partisan positions and supporting one party/candidate or the other. Most support is reported to have been in favor of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), although in some districts local elected and public officials are supporting MQM, PPP, PML-F, MMA, JUI-F etc.
FAFEN observers report that District or Tehsil Nazims are supporting PML-Q in Lahore, Layyah, Attock, Chakwal, Khushab, Jhang, Sahiwal, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Okara, Rawalpindi, Jehlum, Mianwali, Toba Tek Singh, Khanewal, Faisalabad, Haripur, Kohat, Tank, Dadu, Sukkur, Tando Muhammad Khan and Thatta, Ketch-Turbat, Nushki and Gwadar.
MQM is getting support of District and/ or Tehsil Nazims in Karachi; PML-F in Khairpur and Shikarpur; PPP-Sherpao in Hangu; ANP in Mardan, Jamaat-i-Islami in Chitral; PPP in Nasirabad; JUI-F in Bannu; and PML-N in Karak.
The Nazims are supporting certain political parties by urging voters to vote for them, attending their rallies, and allowing use of official resources such as use of official cars and
premises. There are also reports that District and Tehsil Nazims are instructing Union Council Nazims to support a certain party by wooing voters in its favor. FAFEN’s observations of by-elections since 2006 has established that Union Council Nazims, having a local clout, were used by contesting candidates and political parties to coerce and coax voters to polling stations on Election Day. FAFEN had also reported that many UC Nazims even supervised voting inside the polling stations, ensuring that voters cast their ballots in favor of a certain candidate.
- Partisan District Government Officials
There also have been reports that the officials of the local government including District Coordination Officers (DCOs), District Police Officers (DPOs) and Executive District Officers (EDOs) are noticeably supporting one party/candidate or the other. According to reports of FAFEN observers, district government officials including DPOs, DCOs, TMOs and EDOs in Chakwal, Sahiwal, Muzaffargarh, Multan, Jehlum, Kohat, Karachi West Thatta, Jaffarabad and Nushki are supporting a certain party or a candidate.
In Multan, for example, the DPO is allowing the PML-Q candidate to hold public rallies despite the imposition of Section 144 and state of emergency. Similarly, in Chakwal and Rawalpindi, reports suggest police have been arresting workers of opposition parties for trying to rally, but allowing public meetings by PML-Q candidates. The Jhelum DCO reportedly has instructed the staff of his office to attend the rallies of the PML-Q candidates.
Reports from Karachi’s NA-254 and NA-252 suggest that the DCO and TMO have been choosing officials who are supportive of the MQM for Election Day duties. Many FAFEN observers have reported that senior district government officials have been seen meeting the candidates of PML-Q during and after official hours, creating a public impression of support to these candidates.
In addition, some FAFEN observes have reported that district governments are speeding the completion of development projects initiated during the tenure of the previous government and using the achievements to persuade voters to vote in a certain way.
- Postings and Transfers
While FAFEN has yet to get comprehensive data of postings and transfers of government officials since October 1, 2007, its observers have indicated a high number of postings and transfers in district government and police departments in the observed districts over the past couple of months.
Reports suggest that new police officers of the rank of SHO and above have been appointed after October 1, 2007, in Khushab, Kasur, Jhang, Okara, Rahim Yar Khan, Muzaffargarh, Multan, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Layyah, Abbotabad, Karak, Khairpur, Sukkur, Karachi West, Karachi South, Karachi East, Karachi Central, Malir, Matiari, Nawabshah, Tando Muhammad Khan, Thatta, Nushki and Kech Turbat.
Chakwal, Jhang, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Lahore and Abbotabad have new DCOs after October 1, 2007, while new EDOs have been appointed in Chakwal, Sahiwal, Dera Ghazi Khan, Multan, Layyah, Charsada, Abbotabad, Malakand, Sukkur, Nasirabad and Gwadar.
- New Development Schemes
New development schemes have been announced in 16 constituencies of Sahiwal, Muzaffargarh, Multan, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Nowshera, Karachi West, Karachi South, Karachi East, Karachi Central, Thatta and Gawadar after November 1, 2007. Provincial governments have initiated work on new development schemes after this date in 11 constituencies of Sahiwal, Multan, Lahore, Malakand, Nowshera, Karachi West, Karachi South and Thatta.
- Partisan Caretaker Ministers
In Nasirabad, caretaker minister for livestock Mohammad Murad Abro, who also heads Jamote Qaumi Movement (JQM), is publicly supporting the JQM by participating in its rallies, making public statements in support of the movement and urging people to vote for JQM. In Thatta, Syed Ejaz Shah Shirazi, caretaker minister for food and agriculture, is supporting the PML-Q candidate, who is also his son.
FAFEN calls upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to:
- Clarify publicly its methodology for enforcing equitably the letter and spirit of its 2007-08 Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Contesting Candidates, as well as all other Election Laws
- Provide clear regulations for submitting election-related complaints to the Commission regarding Code of Conduct violations and other matters
- Host regular, collective meetings with the political parties to address concerns as the election process goes forward
FAFEN calls upon government officials at every level to suspend openly partisan activities, mass transfers of personnel, and initiation of new development schemes, all of which improperly influence voters and create unfair environment in favor of a certain party or its candidates.
FAFEN reiterates its call for significant reform of the ECP Code of Conduct, especially with regard to the common, inappropriate use of state resources of all kinds in advance of elections.
About FAFEN:The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) is a coalition of thirty leading Pakistani civil society organizations. It was established in 2006 to observe the election process, educate voters, and advocate for electoral and democratic reform.
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