512 Code of Conduct Violations in 10 Days

ISLAMABAD, April 20, 2013: As many as 16 political parties and independent candidates have committed violations of the Election Code of Conduct in 77 observed National Assembly constituencies across the country between April 1 and 10, 2013, says Pre-Election Update 33 released on Saturday.

Violations committed by political parties and independent candidates include one-third by Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) (183, or 35.7%), followed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) (96, or 18.8 %), Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) (75, or 14.6%), and independent candidates (74 or 14.4 %).

Most violations were in Punjab (486, or 94.9%), followed by KP (15), Sindh and Balochistan (4 each), FATA (2) and Islamabad (1).

Visual campaign materials exceeding allowable sizes – especially oversized banners/panaflexes (47%) and banned wall chalking/graffiti (46%) – constituted most (91.2%) of the 512 violations recorded by FAFEN observers.

Other violations included two abuses against opposing candidates, 12 cases of illegal inducements to voters, and 12 violations of Code Article 29 on weapons and fireworks.

This update is based on reports gathered from a total of 77 constituencies – 62 constituencies in Punjab, five in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), four in Balochistan, three in Sindh, two in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and one in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) has deployed Constituency Long Term Observers (CLTOs) in every National Assembly constituency across the country to observe the pre-election campaign period. CLTOs report violations of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates, among other topics.

The ECP press releases on 22 March and 6 April 2013 indicate that ECP “has appointed more than 400 monitoring teams across the country to monitor political activities in General Elections-2013.”  Based on its observations of violations around the country of the ECP Code of Conduct for political parties and candidates, FAFEN recommends the following:

  1. ECP monitoring teams should respond to violations identified by FAFEN pre-election observers in each National Assembly constituency as well as reliable information gathered by other partisan and non-partisan sources.
  2. ECP should communicate all actions taken against violators of its Code of Conduct to the media and the public.      

According to the update, the disproportionate number of violations recorded in Punjab reflects both vigorous campaigning in the province and better reporting from the FAFEN observers in 62 Punjab constituencies. It may also be related to recent security threats and violence against election candidates and their campaigns in other parts of the country.

Observers recorded 467 visual campaign material violations (91.2 %) during the 10 days of observation. The remaining 45 violations include the use of loudspeakers (16 instances), illegal inducements to voters (12 instances), display of weapons (seven instances), aerial firing and fireworks (five instances), rallies causing public inconvenience (three instances), and abuse against opposing candidates (two instances).

In all, 467 incidents of illegal visual campaign material were reported across the country between April 1 and 10.  The highest number of violations were reported from Punjab (451), followed by KP (12), Balochistan (3) and Sindh (1).

Oversized banners/panaflexes were seen at 220 places (47%).  Parties’ and candidates’ graffiti were seen at 215 locations (46%), despite a blanket ban. FAFEN observers also noted oversized hoardings/billboards at 16 locations (3.5%) and posters at 16 locations (3.5%).

More than one-third of the observed violations were by PML-N (169 instances, or 36%), about one-fifth were by PTI (90, or 19%), followed by PPPP (70, or 15%) and independent candidates (64, or 14%).

Other violations were by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) (24) and Pakistan Muslim League (PML) (18).  The remaining were by Sunni Tehreek and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) (9 each), Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) (5), two each by Awami National Party (ANP), Tehreek-e-Jafaria and Ahle Sunnat Waljamat, and one each by Awami Workers Party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadees.

Candidates belonging to PML-N had the highest number of violations at 81, followed by PTI (35), PPPP (30), independent candidates (29), PML (15), MQM (nine), Sunni Tehreek (eight), JI (six), Ahle Sunnat Waljamat (2), Tehreek-e-Jafaria (2) and one each by PAT, AWP and ANP.

Wall chalking was observed at 215 places: 212 in Punjab, two in KP and one in Sindh. Candidates belonging to PML-N again had the most violations (77), followed by PTI (45), PPPP (40), independent candidates (31), JI (15), JUI-F and PML (2 each), ANP and ST (1 each). Most examples (191) were on private property, and 24 on government property.

Note: For details, please see the attached Pre-Election Update 33.