Pakistan to devise conduct code for general elections


Islamabad : The Pakistani government has offered to convene a conference of all political parties to devise a code of conduct for the general elections that are due early next year.

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“The election process is imminent and a code of conduct is needed to resolve security issues. The government would contact all political parties to work out a mutually-agreed code of conduct for the upcoming general elections,” The News Sunday quoted Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz as saying.

He was speaking to reporters after the ground-breaking ceremony for an environment centre at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat here Saturday.

The prime minister stressed the need for collective and bilateral negotiations.

“We want an atmosphere where people’s life and property are protected and a congenial political environment is needed to ensure the reconciliation process,” he added.

The government had earlier this month promulgated the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) for dropping graft charges against politicians and others. The move was largely meant to facilitate the return from exile of former prime minister Benzair Bhutto.

Bhutto’s arrival in Karachi Thursday was marred by a suicide bomber’s strike that left at least 139 people dead. There have also been reports of a deal between Bhutto and President Pervez Musharaf to share power after the general elections.

According to Aziz, a conduct code was necessary to ensure “smooth running” of political activity.

“The political parties could convey their programmes to the people through public meetings and the media,” the prime minister said, even as he hoped political parties would cooperate with the government.

“We will continue our march towards democracy, assuring that elections will be held in a fair and free manner and the Election Commission is geared up to achieve this objective,” Aziz maintained.

Aziz, The News said, has directed the police and law enforcing agencies to prepare a comprehensive security plan for the period “before, during and after” the general elections and to ensure the security of political leaders and common people.

He gave these directions at a high-level meeting on law and order attended by the provincial home secretaries, inspector generals of police and senior officials of the interior ministry.

“The prime minister also directed that the security plans should not restrict political activities undertaken within the ambit of the law. He further directed that the security plans of all major political events should be worked out in consultation with the relevant political parties and that they are briefed on all possible aspects and eventualities,” the newspaper said.

“Media interaction should be made part of any security plan and specific senior officers should be designated to perform this assignment,” Aziz told the meeting.