ISLAMABAD - Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim has urged all the political parties to firmly adhere to the code of conduct for candidates to ensure free, fair and impartial elections.

In a letter addressed to the leaders of all the major political parties, the CEC hoped they would help the commission in providing peaceful atmosphere during the election campaigns and on the polling day to stall any move to subvert or sabotage the elections in any manner.

“This can only be done if all the political parties and their candidates observe the code of conduct,” the letter read. The CEC said the parties’ sense of responsibility and sincerity of purpose would go a long way in nurturing democracy and promoting values of tolerance, thus depicting the real face of Pakistani society which firmly believed in peace and harmony.

“Today Pakistan is passing through a critical phase of its national history. More than 85 million voters will soon be going to polling stations, across the country, to elect their representatives at national and provincial level for next five years,” he said.

He believed that democracy with its many variations was the only reliable medium of governing people in accordance with their free will expressed by them through a credible and transparent electoral process.

He added that the Election Commission, conscious of its constitutional obligations, had already taken a number of crucial steps to conduct the elections in a smooth and peaceful manner.

“We will definitely continue to adopt every conceivable measure, in accordance with the law to provide electoral environment conducive to candidates to campaign and for voters to exercise their right to vote freely without any fear or intimidation,” he was determined. But he was of the view that this was possible only if all stakeholders in the election exercise played their role by following the rules of games set by the Election Commission in the code of conduct for political parties.

He urged them to advise rank and file of their party to promote and maintain peace and harmony during their election campaign while they had every right to reach out to voters and propagate their political manifestoes and policies, but they must respect others’ right to do the same. “It is essential for us to adopt, in the larger national interest, the policy of co-existence at all levels and at all stages in the election process,” he added.

Meanwhile, the ECP has also taken notice of the statement of Caretaker Interior Minister Malik Habib about PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif and has sought the related record from its PR wing.

Earlier, all major political parties, including PPP, PTI, PML-Q and MQM, expressed their annoyance over his statement and demanded his resignation.

However, during a press conference along with ECP Additional Secretary Afzal Khan on Tuesday, Malik Habib responded to criticism and said he was impartial and his main responsibility was to conduct free and fair elections.

Agencies add: In another development, the Election Commission of Pakistan has released the data pertaining to the scrutiny of all candidates whose nomination papers have been accepted for the Elections 2013.

The data, released on the ECP website, contains details from National Accountability Bureau (NAB), State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on the candidates’ tax records as well as any loans that they have taken.

The record cleared PML-N President Nawaz Sharif, PTI Chief Imran Khan, ANP Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and JUI-F head Maulana Fazlur Rehman. MQM’s Farooq Sattar was also cleared though the former MNA declared no income and paid no tax in 2010.

Furthermore, General (R) Pervez Musharraf’s records indicate that he paid no taxes in 2010, 2011 and 2012.