The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulation Authority (Pemra) on Tuesday ordered the media to follow the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) code of conduct in the lead-up to the next general elections, as political parties intensify their electioneering activities.
In accordance with the ECP’s “code of conduct,” Pemra, the Press Information Department (PID), the Cyber Wing, the Digital Media Wing, and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MolB) will all keep an eye on the coverage that political parties and candidates receive for their election campaigns.
Pemra’s advice comes at a time when the media, globally as well as locally, has been instrumental in guaranteeing free, transparent, and acceptable elections for all parties involved.
As a result, the coverage provided by media outlets and staff members is crucial to restoring public trust in Pakistan’s precarious democratic system, which has seen a turbulent history marred by accusations of “rigged” elections, the most recent of which were in 2013 and 2018.
There were numerous complaints that raised issues with media coverage prior to, during, and following the polls in both of the previously stated elections.
But in an effort to stop this from happening in the 2024 elections, the ECP has made it illegal for the media to “project election campaign of any candidate or political party during 48 hours ending at midnight following the conclusion of the poll for any election” (Section 182 of the Elections Act 2017).
The electoral authority has also requested that the Foreign Office extend an invitation to foreign observers to oversee the transparency of the next general elections, following the EU’s declaration that it would not be able to send a full-scale election observation team.
In addition to forbidding the media from funding candidates’ and political parties’ election campaigns at the expense of the national coffers, the highest electoral body will get thorough reports within ten days of election day from the PTA, PID, and other pertinent departments detailing the specifics of the payments made by the candidates and political parties.