Security SOPs issued for political rallies

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Home and Tribal Affairs Department issued a comprehensive code of conduct and security guidelines for political parties intending to hold gatherings in the province. This move came in response to the deadly Bajaur suicide attack during a Jamiat Uelma-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) workers convention, which resulted in at least 54 fatalities and numerous injuries.

This was not the first time the JUI-F had been targeted, as a similar attack occurred in May 2013, claiming the lives of 24 people during a political rally in the Kurram district of K-P. The recent explosion occurred while NA-38 candidate Munir Orakzai was addressing party activists inside a mosque-cum-seminary in the Sawak area of the district.

Fortunately, neither he nor NA-37 candidate Maulana Ainud Din Shakir, who was also present, were harmed in the attack. This incident marked the first major attack on the JUI-F by the militants during the ongoing election campaign season.

In response to the prevailing law and order situation in the province, the home department issued a notification to all relevant authorities, including divisional commissioners, district administrations, district police officers, and additional IGs, to strictly enforce the newly introduced code of conduct and security guidelines.

The standard operating procedures (SOPs) require political parties to submit applications for No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to the district administration for meetings and corner gatherings. The applications must include details of the venue, list of leadership, and expected audience numbers. Local leadership must also submit an affidavit stating that no roads or streets will be blocked, and no disruptions to traffic flow will be caused during the gatherings.

To prevent clashes and logistical issues, different political parties are advised not to hold meetings on the same date, time, and place. The NOCs for corner meetings and political gatherings will be issued by the deputy commissioner, who will also work with stakeholders to identify two or three suitable venues for such events.

The SOPs further restrict political activities in government, semi-government, autonomous institutions, sports grounds, and roads, limiting them to closed premises. Additionally, all political meetings should be held during daylight hours and adhere to the scheduled time. The use of loudspeakers is permitted at large political gatherings, but not near public places, places of worship, hospitals, or educational institutions.

The code of conduct strictly prohibits defamatory, derogatory language, hate speech, and personal attacks in speeches. Political parties are also directed not to paste posters, banners, or flags on government buildings. The size of party promotional materials must adhere to the instructions of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).


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