ISLAMABAD - Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday barred lawmakers of political parties including the prime minister and chief ministers from making any secret electoral pledges once schedule for by-election is announced in any constituency.

Modifying the existing rules that already ban public office holders from campaigning for their respective candidates after issuance of election schedule, the ECP on Thursday listed MNAs and MPAs in order to completely ban activities of lawmakers in a constituency where by-polls are announced.

In what seems to be a peculiar step, the ECP also warned lawmakers against giving donations to a constituency once schedule is issued for the by-polls. The modified rules come at a time when the ECP has already issued schedule for by-elections on constituencies in Multan, Mandi Bahauddin and Mansehra where the polls would be conducted in June.

Under the new code of conduct, party heads that are members of National Assembly or provincial assemblies cannot boost campaigns for their respective candidates. Even an MPA or MNA cannot help their candidates once the schedule is announced. The schedule is announced 45 days before the polling day.

"From now onwards, Imran Khan, Nawaz Sharif, Sirajul Haq and other party heads cannot take part in election campaigns for their candidates as they are members of National Assembly. This is the new addition to the already existing code of conduct," an ECP official told The Nation.

To a question how would the ECP know about any secret electoral pledges made by lawmakers to voters, the official said that public can approach the commission in case they have knowledge about the incident.

"The president, prime minister, chief ministers, advisers to PM, federal ministers, chairman and deputy chairman of Senate, National Assembly speaker, governors, state ministers or members of National Assembly or provincial assemblies or any person on their behalf shall not visit the constituency or a polling station after the schedule," a notification issued by ECP reads.

No development project would be inaugurated in the constituency or funds should be released, said the notification, adding that any move that could influence the polling process would be strictly discouraged.

The notification, according to ECP officials, is extraordinary in a sense that party heads that until recently would hold mammoth rallies in support of their choice candidates, would now not be able to do the same. "You will see now that no party head would visit Multan, Mandi Bahauddin and Mansehra where the schedule for polls has already been announced. In future, the same rules would be applied," the official said.