LAHORE - As the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday suspended all local governments until July 25, the Election Day, the Punjab government is likely to appoint deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners as administrators, sources said.

The provincial government has also issued a code of conduct for officials so that they could serve the public impartially.

On Tuesday, the ECP suspended office-bearers of district committees, town committees, municipal committees, mayors, deputy mayors of the metropolitan, members of cantonment boards, chairmen of union councils and ward committees.

The Article 218 (3) of Constitution and Section 4&8 of the Elections Act 2017 empowers the ECP to take such preemptive measures to prevent any action on the part of the local government institution that amounts to influence the results of upcoming general elections by depriving candidates of having a level playing field.

The Local Government and Community Development Department (LG&CD) and the Education Department have directed their employees to take measures. They have also warned their staff to be ready to face severe circumstances if they failed to comply with the authority’s directions.

The LG&CD, a couple of days ago, had forwarded a summary to the Chief Minister Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi seeking his approval for banning the functions of the local bodies across the province.

The department, a parent organization for the local bodies, had received complaints that some of the office bearers of municipal, district, and town bodies had been taking part in the political activities.

The LG&CD had either wanted a complete ban on the local bodies activities or at least transfer of the Chief Officers (COs). The caretaker government had transferred all the civil as well as police bureaucracy amid general elections 2018. However, the interim government could not transfer the prisons police, municipal services officers, Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the district education, health authorities and some others. These departments play a very important role in holding the elections.

“Since the local bodies’ representatives had contested their elections on the party basis, it was the probability that they would influence their institutions in favor of the party they belonged to,” said an LG&CD officer. Not only the offices were being used but also the local bodies’ staff along with the office holders, alleged a Local Government Board officer on anonymity. Despite the fact that the LG Department had imposed a ban on all types of development, an officer feared the local body office bears and the COs could manage any contractor on their guarantee to approve and clear the funds in back dates to do development works to favor his party candidates contesting in the constituency.

Moreover, the School Education Department (SED) has also barred its staff from showing affiliation with any of the political party contesting elections. No teacher or other SED employee will participate in any political party rally nor allow using his premises. If found involved, the administrative department would act against the said official under PEEDA Act 2006. Earlier, the SED faculty and others allowed the political parties to utilize the government schools to hold rallies.