ISLAMABAD - A day after the Election Commission of Pakistan had accused the prime minister of foul play in funds' spending and banned the diversion of public funds as well the recruitments in the government departments, a top ECP official has reiterated 'no mercy' for the violators of the electoral body's instructions issued to this effect.

"There would be zero tolerance, no mercy, for the violators, come what may," said the Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim while talking to this correspondent by phone from Karachi on Tuesday.

His comments came against the backdrop of the ban imposition on the governmental recruitments (except inductions made through federal and provincial public service commissions) and public funds diversion amidst repeated reports of irregularities in these practices for political mileage on part of ruling brass ahead of the general elections to attract publics' votes.

To a query, the CEC said that action would be taken in accordance with the constitutional provisions if the electoral body found material evidence on the direct involvement of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the irregular practices or anybody else. "When I say there would be zero tolerance, it applies on all and the PM is no exception. If we get hold of concrete evidence, we'll proceed accordingly. The Constitution of Pakistan fully empowers the election commission to exercise its authority in the manner it deems necessary for the conduct of free and fair elections. The Supreme Court has ordered the ECP to make arrangements for free and fair polls. Let there be no doubts left."  

Ebrahim said that the issuance of electoral body's Monday decision had mainly to do with the Premier. "When you are in power and millions of rupees are being diverted from elsewhere to the developmental projects in your constituency and government departments are being filled with the political appointees right under your nose, doesn't that say a bit too much and a bit too loud? It's time that you be stopped so that the country be saved from rigged electoral process," he said referring to the reports about the irregularities under the patronage of the PM.

"We could not stay silent on these reports. Something was to be done and we did what constitution authorised us to do."

In the light of the electoral laws, the ECP can proceed to de-notify the parliamentary membership of a lawmaker and disqualify him from re-election for five years, if found him involved in a corrupt practice. Article 63 (1) (l) of the constitution says, "A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if-he is found guilty of corrupt or illegal practice under any law for the time being in force, unless a period of five years has elapsed from the date on which that order takes effect."

The Article 99 (1A) (l) of The Representation of the People Act 1976 says, "A person shall be disqualified from being elected as, and from being, a member of an assembly, if-he is found guilty of corrupt or illegal practice under any law for the time being in force, unless a period of five years has elapsed from the date on which that order takes effect."

Although, the Premier is facing charges of mega corruption in the Rental Power Plants (RPPs) case pending in the Supreme Court, the ECP cannot proceed to de-notify him in the particular case since the PM has not been convicted and the matter remains sub judice.

A statement by the ECP on Monday looked clearly suggestive of the PM's involvement in pre-poll rigging through massive funds spending. "The commission has considered the repeated concern of the people as expressed and voiced in the national press that money allocated to various important development projects in the country is being diverted to the discretionary fund of the Prime Minister of Pakistan for its utilisation in the development of his constituency, is nothing short of yet another facet of pre-poll-rigging which if not checked and brought to an immediate end is likely to influence the electoral process adversely," the statement had noted.

Reacting to it, the Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira had told this journalist the same day (Monday) that the government held the ECP in 'high esteem' and respected its decision but "decisions based on wild allegations and insinuations be avoided."

"If anyone has any proof regarding the diversion of public funds to the PM's constituency, he/she better come up with concrete evidence or documentary proof instead of levelling baseless allegations," he had said.