LAHORE: More than 2000 candidates of banned outfits are in the race for the first phase of local bodies’ election in Punjab by technically knocking down the authorities check to stop them, religious parties sources told The Nation yesterday.

The successive governments after the launch of war on terror, have banned more than 200 organizations which found involved in working against the interests of the state and its vital institutions.

The proscribed organizations also include a separate section for the 60 organizations put in the category of terrorist outfits.

Sources in the religious parties endorsed the military operations against the banned militant outfits told the paper that more than 2000 candidates of the proscribed organizations are taking part in the first phase of local bodies’ polls to be held onOctober 31 in the 12 districts of Punjab.

How they manage to join the race when asked, the sources said, “The banned outfits’ leaders either selected their relatives with no active background in the proscribed organizations or chosen their sympathizers with no background with security agencies to evade the ban. Nobody can challenge or stop the clean-background persons from contesting the local elections.”

Punjab Election Commissioner Masood Malik, when contacted said, “The election authority has no system to check the background details of any candidate. The Commission follows the details of the candidate mentioned in his nomination papers. The candidate also gives an oath in the nomination paper saying that the details he is providing in the nomination papers are completely true.”

“The opponent candidates can file complaints challenging their competitor’s credentials in the election appellate committees and they can reject the nomination papers of any candidate if they find substantial evidence against the respondent candidate,” added the provincial election commissioner.

Religious parties sources also told that many of the banned outfits’ candidates enjoy the support of mainstream political parties for local bodies’ polls. They have also made seat adjustments in some of the districts fall in the first phase of local elections.

“Most of the proscribed organizations’ candidates contesting the local elections as independent candidates or by forming local groups in their respective districts,” added the religious parties sources.

They said, “Faisalabad, Bhakkar, Lodhran, Vehari and Bahawalnagar districts fall among the major areas of the banned outfits’ candidates. But they have also been in the race for local polls from the remaining seven districts of the first phase.”

“Proscribed organizations have mostly fielded candidates on the seats for general members of the Union Councils for District Councils, Metropolitan/Municipal Corporations and general members for Municipal Committees’ wards. A small number of their candidates have also been contesting for chairmen and vice chairmen of the district councils,” they added.

A total of 33794 candidates are in the race for general members of the Union Councils for District Councils, Metropolitan/Municipal Corporations and general members for Municipal Committees’ wards.