Pakistan’s Election Commission on Sunday barred candidates from seeking votes in the name of religion or sect under new guidelines issued for the country’s landmark May 11 general election.
The poll panel said the new guidelines were aimed at ensuring the “smooth and peaceful conduct” of the general election.
“Under the new guidelines‚ candidates will not seek votes in the name of religion or sect,” state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
Providing transport to voters to take them to polling stations and the forced eviction of voters from polling stations would be considered crimes, the Election Commission said.
Voters would not be allowed to take ballot papers out of polling stations and candidates cannot establish polling camps within 400 yards of polling stations.
Several political parties have included religious elements and messages in their television and newspaper advertisements ahead of the polls, which will mark the first democratic transition of power in Pakistan’s 66-year history.
In a related development the Election Commission said it had made foolproof security measures to prevent the misuse of ballot papers during and before the polling day.
The Commission said it had used “exclusive green and white colours” and paper of special weight and quality as security features for the ballot papers.
The ballot papers will also have serial numbers on the pattern of currency notes, it said.