FAFEN Pre-Election Update 38: 830 Code Violations, including Controversial Speeches

ISLAMABAD, May 6, 2013: FAFEN observers recorded a total of 830 Code of Conduct violations between April 20 and 26, 2013. Of these, 10 cases were of speeches arousing controversy or personal criticism of other candidates. FAFEN Pre-Election Update 35 (April 26, 2013) reported 11 similar observed cases.  A related FAFEN press release on April 30, 2013 urged ECP to take more action to “Stop Incitements to Sectarian Violence,” says Pre-Election Update 38 released on Monday.

Observers reported two actions against women voters and 41 instances of illegal voter inducement.  Other observed violations include weapons display (41 instances), rallies causing inconvenience (39), aerial firing/fireworks (18), and use of loudspeakers (63 instances).

Half of the observed Code of Conduct violations were visual campaign materials exceeding allowable sizes, including banners, hoardings, leaflets and posters (414, or 49.9%).  Other violations noted were wall chalking/graffiti (202, or 24.3%). These two categories constitute three-fourths (616, or 74.2%) of observed violations.

Violations were committed by 20 political parties and independent candidates. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) committed almost one-third of the violations (244, or 29.3%), followed by almost one-fifth by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) (154, or 18.5%), Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) (144, or 17.3 %), independent candidates (96, or 11.5%) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) (42, or 5.1%).

Almost three-quarter of violations were reported in Punjab (614, or 73.9%), followed by Sindh (125, or 15.1%) and KP (80 or 9.6%). Only eight Code violations (0.96%) were reported from FATA and three (0.3 %) in Balochistan.

The 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. These CLTOs report violations of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates, among other topics.

This update is based on reports gathered by CLTOs between April 20 and 26, 2013, from 131 constituencies – 86 in Punjab, 22 in Sindh, 16 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), four in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and three in Balochistan.

The ECP has appointed more than 400 monitoring teams across the country to monitor political activities in General Election 2013.  Based on its observations of violations around the country of the ECP Code of Conduct, FAFEN recommends that the 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.

The ECP should communicate all enforcement actions taken against violators to the media and the public.

FAFEN observers recorded 10 violations of the ECP Code of Conduct related to speech tending to arouse controversy or personal criticism of other candidates. Six of such cases were reported in Punjab, three in KP and one in Sindh. Violators included three PTI candidates, two independent candidates and one JI candidate. Two violations were committed by PML-N workers, one jointly by PPPP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and one by unidentified persons.

Three PTI candidates in NA-35 (Malakand, KP), NA-153 (Multan, Punjab) and NA-181 (Layyah, Punjab) delivered inflammatory speeches against their opponents, as did two independent candidates in NA-188 (Bahawalnagar, Punjab) and NA-107 (Gujrat, Punjab) and a JI candidate in NA-35 (Malakand Protected Area, KP).

Workers of a PML-N candidate accused their opponents in NA-27 (Lakki Marwat, Punjab) of siding with terrorists during inflammatory speeches, while party workers in NA-89 (Jhang, Punjab) dubbed their opponents quarrelsome and rigid.

A female candidate of MQM was allegedly mocked/harassed in NA-238 (Thatta, Sindh) by unidentified motorcyclists, while a PTI candidate in NA-153 (Multan, Punjab) was reportedly harassed by PPPP and MQM workers.

FAFEN observers reported two incidents of actions against women voters in Punjab, both by PML-N party workers or candidates. Workers of PML-N in NA-83 (Faisalabad) allegedly plan to bar women from voting under a secret understanding between candidates/political parties and community elders.  A PML-N candidate in NA-157 (PP-215, Khanewal) allegedly bribed women not to participate in a meeting of his political opponent and warned them of dire consequences if they voted for his opponent.

FAFEN observers reported 41 incidents – 30 in Punjab,  six in KP, four in Sindh and one in Balochistan  – in which candidates allegedly tried to attract voters by distributing money, food or other commodities and/or by promising jobs or specific development schemes.  Violators included 12 PPPP candidates, 11 PML-N candidates, eight independent candidates, six PTI candidates, two Pakistan Muslim League (PML) candidates and one candidate each of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islami-Fazal ur Rehman (JUI-F) and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ).

FAFEN observers reported 41 incidents – 21 in Punjab, 11 in Sindh and 9 in KP – in which candidate supporters or party workers displayed weapons at public places.  PML-N had the most violations with 12 instances, followed by PPPP (8), ANP and PML (4 each), JUI-F (3), PTI and independent candidates (2 each), and ASWJ, MQM, National Peoples Party (NPP), Pakistan Awami Tehreek, PML-Functional (PML-F), PPP-Shaheed Bhutto (PPP-SB) (1 each).

PML-N workers were seen carrying guns in 11 gatherings in Punjab (NA-52, NA-65, NA-71, NA-75, NA-82, NA-85, NA-89, NA-106 and NA-159) and one in Sindh (NA-212). PPPP workers were seen with weapons at six gatherings in Sindh (NA-211, NA-212, NA-217, NA-221 and NA-236), one in Punjab (NA-109) and one in KP (NA-5).

Awami National Party (ANP) workers were seen carrying weapons in four gatherings in KP (NA-12, NA-13, NA-35) while PML supporters were seen with weapons in four gatherings in NA-104 (Gujrat, Punjab).  Workers of JUI-F were seen with weapons in NA-27 (Lakki Marwat) and PTI supporters in NA-71(Mianwali) and NA-65 (Sargodha), all in Punjab.

In NA-168 (Vehari, Punjab), supporters of independent candidates were seen carrying weapons.  The supporters of an independent candidate in NA-26 (Bannu, KP) were also observed with weapons.

In Sindh, PPP-SB and NPP workers were seen carrying weapons in NA-211 (Naushero Feroze), as were MQM workers in NA-238 (Thatta).  In Punjab, Pakistan Awami Tehreek workers in NA-116 (Narowal) and ASWJ workers in NA-90 (Jhang) were seen with weapons.

PPPP supporters were seen setting off firecrackers at two rallies in NA-145, NA-146 (Okara, Punjab) and also outside party offices in NA-51 and NA-50 (Rawalpindi, Punjab). Fireworks were seen at a PML-N rally in NA-167 (Vehari, Punjab) while supporters of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) set off firecrackers in NA-269 (Khuzdar).

FAFEN observers recorded 11 instances of aerial firing during the observation period:  four by MQM in Sindh (NA-219, NA-220, NA-223); three by PML-N in Punjab (NA-117, NA-71 and NA-146); two by independent candidates in NA-74 (Punjab) and NA-242 (Sindh) and one each by PTI in Punjab (NA-71) and PPPP supporters/workers in Punjab (NA-146).

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