Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has imposed complete ban on political advertisements in print or electronic media.

The order pertains to any such advertisement materiel bearing any political party logo, political party name, images of political party leaders and/or directly or indirectly promoting any political party or candidate.

The ECP has thus issued directive to Federal and Provincial Governments to ensure its implementation in letter and spirit.

It was noted with concern by the ECP that with forthcoming elections looming on the horizon, frequent advertisements were appearing in the print, electronic media highlighting the achievements of Federal, Provincial Governments, while these advertisements with party symbols were being used to promote political parties by placing party symbols and images of party leaders therein.

It has been ruled that such advertisements should not be promoting party interests at the expense of public money and were thus against the norm of level playing field, which cannot be allowed to continue, as it would amount to misuse of the resources from the public exchequer for their own self-interest.

It is pertinent to note that under Article 218(3) of the constitution, ECP was bound to ensure free, fair and transparent elections; and this duty has been reiterated in the recent judgment of the Supreme Court, which it passed in the Workers Party Pakistan’s petition No.87 of 2011, in para 47.

According to this article whereof, the Apex Court has inter alia observed that “the Election Commission is fully empowered and independent to do all that is necessary to fulfill its constitutional mandate and instruct that it do so.”