The Islamabad High Court has barred the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from taking action against Prime Minister Imran Khan over alleged violations of the election code of conduct in the lead-up to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) local government elections.
The ECP had issued two separate show-cause notices to the Prime Minister for participating in campaign rallies in KP after the election schedule had been announced, a violation of the code of conduct.
The Prime Minister, along with Planning Minister Asad Umar who was also named in the ECP’s notices, had challenged the ECP at the high court, contending that the election body did not have the authority to stop them from participating in campaigns after the government promulgated the Elections Commission (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022.
The ordinance permits public office-holders to visit any area where elections are scheduled, regardless of the election timetable. The government has argued that this ordinance should supersede, or be incorporated into, the ECP’s code of conduct.
“The Election Commission did not have the power to annul the ordinance,” Attorney General (AG) Khalid Javed Khan told the court. Defending the ordinance’s constitutionality, the AG said that, “The prime minister could not remain impartial while attending political activities. How can a star performer be separated in the parliamentary form of government?”
Previously, the ECP has expressed reservations over the new ordinance, stating that it would ‘defeat the very purpose of a level playing field’ in elections.