ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday allowed people with physical disabilities to cast their votes through postal ballots.
Those issued special computerised national identity cards meant for physically impaired persons by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) have been asked to apply with the returning officer concerned to avail the facility by July 5.
Meanwhile, the commission issued a code of conduct and guidelines for international observers, binding them to choose an area of election observation in ‘strict consultation’ with the ECP.
ECP issues code of conduct for international observers
Under the code, they will select an area in a balanced manner to avoid concentration in any constituency or area. “Entry into areas closed due to security or administrative reasons would not be permitted,” the code of conduct reads.
The international observers will be required to display the accreditation cards issued by the ECP and their entry into the polling stations would be strictly on the basis of these cards.
The observers will be required to respect sovereignty of Pakistan and fundamental rights of its people, adhere to the laws and Constitution of Pakistan and respect the commission and its officials.
They will be required to follow instructions issued from time to time by the ECP and state authorities, including security officials, and maintain a respectful attitude towards them.
The observers have also been asked to comply with the advisories that may be issued by the government or security agencies to ensure their safety during their stay in Pakistan.
The ECP has also made it clear that it reserved the right to withdraw the accreditation card issued to an individual observer or an observation mission in case of any violation of the code of conduct. “The authority to determine violation also rests with the Election Commission of Pakistan,” the code reads.
Strict political impartiality shall be maintained by international observers at all times during election process. They shall not exhibit any bias or preference with regard to authorities, political parties and candidates as well as any issue related to the process of elections.
The observers shall not conduct or participate in any activity that may generate an impression of favouring or opposing any political party or candidate. They shall ensure that all their observations are impartial, objective and depict the highest standard of accuracy.
The international observers intending to visit Pakistan have been asked to submit their visa applications well in time, according to the rules laid down by the relevant government authorities.
The international observers will be permitted to hire interpreters, but they must not be members of a political party. The interpreters will also have to get themselves registered with the ECP. Only one international observation team and interpreter would be allowed to enter a polling station at a time.
The observers will be required to sign a pledge that they will abide by the code of conduct during their stay in Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2018