The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday declined Rangers’ request to use biometric system for the upcoming by-polls for Karachi’s constituency of NA-246 to be held on April 23.
However, the ECP has agreed to allow the installation of CCTV cameras with the condition that it does not violate the sanctity of vote, ECP Secretary Baber Yaqoob said while addressing a press conference. The ECP member from Sindh was also with him.
Yaqoob said that the ECP would ensure free, fair and transparent elections in NA-246.
The secretary said though the Rangers’ recommendation to hold election under biometrics system was made in good faith, the ECP is not technically ready for this exercise at the moment.
About the installation of CCTV cameras at polling stations, he said that the provincial government has offered to provide these cameras, and if more of them were needed the ECP would arrange them. However, he made it clear that “there will be no compromise on the sanctity of vote”.
Yaqoob said that Rangers’ personnel, in addition to 7,300 policemen lead by nine Superintendent of Police (SPs), would be deployed in the constituency for ensuring peaceful conduct of the election.
He said that Rangers’ personnel will be deployed in and outside of polling stations for security duty under Article 245 of the Constitution. He further said that, “Presiding officers and Rangers personnel at polling stations will have the powers of first class magistrate.”
Answering a question, he clarified that Rangers will be deployed only for security purpose and the Rangers official inside polling station will first report to the presiding officer in case of any irregularity. He said that one Rangers official will be deployed inside each polling station.
Replying to another question, he said there would be no load-shedding on polling day in the constituency. On the acceptability of expired Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) for casting of votes, he said that the position will be cleared in this regard before the elections.
The ECP secretary told the media that during the day he paid an unscheduled visit to NA-246 constituency to review the situation. He said he received some complaints about violation of code of conduct and banners.
Yaqoob said that he had received a written complaint by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) about presence of some ghost polling stations. He added that the election watchdog would look into these allegations.
He appreciated the cooperation of Rangers and other functionaries to the ECP to ensure conduct of by-polls in a peaceful, free, fair and transparent manner.
Answering a question, the ECP Member Sindh said 3,585 books of ballot papers each having 100 papers, are being printed for the by-election at the Printing Corporation of Pakistan under the monitoring of Pakistan Army and Rangers so there is no possibility of the printing of fake ballot papers. He further said a special paper is used in the printing of ballot papers and it is not available in the market.
He said 213 polling stations will be set up in NA-246 where there are over 350,000 registered voters.