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Shehbaz Sharif barred from campaigning for by-election

IANS | Islamabad |

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has barred Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif from taking part in his own poll campaign for a by-election to a National Assembly seat left vacant after the disqualification of his elder brother and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The ECP code of conduct barred constitutional dignitaries, including the President, the Prime Minister, chairman and deputy chairman senate as well as provincial Chief Ministers from visitng the area of any constituency that is going to polls, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The code of conduct came into effect immediately after the ECP announced the election schedule for Lahore National Assembly seat (NA-120). The polling for the seat will be held on September 17, the report said.

The ECP warned that legal action would be taken against any individual found in violation of the rules.

Political observers in Pakistan called the ECP code of conduct "confusing" and wondered how the holder of a public office could be barred from taking part in his own election campaign even though the law permitted a legislator to contest election for another house without tendering resignation. 

A senior official of the ECP said a clear picture would emerge after the submission of nomination papers by Shehbaz Sharif for the by-election to NA-120. 

"This is a unique situation because if the Chief Minister of Punjab files nomination papers, he will not be campaigning for somebody else but for himself and this right can in no way be taken away from him."

The ECP also told candidates that their election expenses should not exceed Rs 1.5 million and they must use a dedicated account for all transactions related to poll expenses.