Government offices, buildings used in political campaigning: FAFEN

ISLAMABAD: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN)’s Constituency Long-Term Observers (CLTOs) have gathered information from various National Assembly constituencies between March 24 and April 2, 2013 and noted inappropriate use of state resources in nine districts (12 NA constituencies) of Punjab, five districts (six constituencies) in Sindh, three in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and one each in Balochistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), says a press release issued on Sunday.

The Pre-Election Update 30 highlights the use of state resources by political parties and candidates for election campaigns in various National Assembly (NA) constituencies around the country. FAFEN CLTOs have been tasked to observe the participation of government officials in political activities and whether there is any campaign material, such as party flags, banners, posters, stickers and wall chalking, on or in the premises of government offices. They also observe announcements of development schemes as part of campaigning.

Based on its repeated observations of state employees and resources involved in political campaigning, FAFEN reiterates its recommendations that Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should take strict and equitable action against parties and candidates violating Code of Conduct, including engagement of government employees in campaigning, posting political campaign materials on or in government property, and making promises of specific development schemes to induce voters. FAFEN also wants political parties and citizens to observe the conduct of public officials and use of public offices across the country and should promptly report any violations of the Code of Conduct to the ECP and other relevant authorities.

According to the report, FAFEN observers witnessed six government officials seeking votes for candidates in five constituencies, including two in Sindh, two in Punjab, and one in Balochistan. Two instances involved campaigning for PPPP candidates, two for independent candidates, and one each for candidates of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

In 15 NA constituencies, FAFEN observers noted 16 instances of campaign materials on the front walls of government buildings and 10 instances of campaign materials inside various government properties. Eight cases were in Punjab, four in Sindh, two in KP and one in FATA. The materials of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) and independent candidates were seen outside state property most frequently, while Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) had campaign material inside government buildings most frequently.

Three new development schemes were announced by a representative of PPPP in one constituency of KP and of Pakistan Muslim League (PML) in two constituencies in Punjab.

In Kamber Shahdadkot (NA-206), the observer saw an official of Polytechnic College seeking vote for an independent candidate, while a Health Department official was seen seeking votes for an MQM candidate in the same area.

The observer in Shaheed Benazirabad (NA-214) saw the District Coordination Officer (DCO) having a private meeting with a PPPP candidate, and the observer in Faisalabad (NA-78) reported that the patrolling police personnel were seeking votes for an independent candidate.

In Mianwali (NA-71), the observer saw a Government Boys High School principal seeking votes for a candidate of JI, while another education department official was seen seeking votes for a PPPP candidate in Mastung (NA-268).

FAFEN observers reported seeing 10 campaign materials (four posters, two wall chalking, two banners, one hoarding and one flag) of five political parties inside government buildings in six constituencies. PPPP had its campaign material inside three government buildings, followed by MQM, PML-N and JUI-F (two each) and PTI, which had its campaign material inside one office.

FAFEN observers reported seeing PPPP’s banner and wall chalking at the police department and local government office in Jamshoro (NA-231) and another banner inside the TMA Office in Dadu (NA-233). PML-N’s poster was seen inside the District Council Building in NA-143 and DSP office in NA-144, both of which are located in Okara.

The observer in NA-144 saw PTI’s wall chalking inside a government postgraduate college and JUI-F’s poster and hoarding inside a government high school and women’s college. Meanwhile, observers in Sahiwal (NA-160) and Karachi West (NA-240) saw MQM’s posters and flags in the TMA and town office, respectively.