No rules binding media coverage of polls: Election CommissionFebruary 16th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by admin
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, Feb 16 (IANS) The Pakistani media can begin announcing the results of the general election Monday evening itself, soon after officials declare them, as no code of conduct has been prescribed. “We haven’t issued any code of conduct for the media. TV channels can announce the results but we expect them to be responsible in their reportage,” said Kanwar M. Dilshad, secretary of the Election Commission.
This is the first time that general elections are being held in the presence of a vibrant media with more than 65 TV channels and 85 FM radio stations in the country.
TV channels have made elaborate arrangements for announcement of results live from polling stations.
“We will be announcing the results as soon as the counting is complete,” Iftikhar Ahmed, head of GEO channel’s election cell, told IANS.
He said more than 2,000 correspondents of GEO and its sister organisations would be reporting on the election from across the country.
“We have authorised the returning officers to announce the results at the polling stations after counting the votes in the presence of the representatives of the candidates and political parties,” Dilshad said.
He said the Election Commission is making every effort to facilitate media organisations.
“Special passes have been issued to journalists and they are allowed to visit the polling stations and see the process,” said Dilshad, adding that international observers have also been facilitated.
More than 500 journalists, including 46 from India, have been registered with the external publicity wing of the information ministry whereas the same number of observers from the US, European Union and other international organisations are in Pakistan to cover the election.
Dilshad said: “We expect that the observers and media persons will not create any problem for the election staff by unnecessarily questioning them.”
He advised the media and observers to “monitor and report” instead of arguing with the election staff.
It is for the first time that domestic observers are monitoring the elections in Pakistan. The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), established with the help of The Asia Foundation and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), has sent 20,000 observers.