ECP secy says police security for 2018 polls insufficient, army needed

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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Babar Yaqoob on Monday informed the Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior that police security may possibly be insufficient for the upcoming general elections scheduled to be held on July 25.

The committee was further informed that 20,000 polling stations have been declared ‘sensitive’ as security fears rise amid the possibility that attempts might be made to hijack the election.

The ECP secretary said that although a request for the army’s help has been forwarded, the military force is occupied with keeping watch on both the eastern and western borders of Pakistan.

“A meeting pertaining to the matter had been held with army officials,” Babar Yaqoob apprised the standing committee, adding that the presence of army personnel at only the ‘sensitive’ polling stations is presently under contemplation, however, their presence at all the polling stations is being advocated by the ECP.

“Sensitive’ polling stations could have cameras installed in them,” said Babar, while explaining how security and election proceedings would be monitored in order to ensure a transparent election process.

“The standard operating procedure (SOP) for the installation of cameras has been decided but the matter of installing them has not yet been decided upon,” stated the ECP secretary, promising to give an in-camera briefing on security concerns later on.

A probable schedule for the submission of nomination published by local media sources is below.

Schedule:

  • June 4: last date for filing of nomination papers
  • June 5: list of nominated candidates to be published
  • June 12: last day for scrutiny of nomination papers
  • June 18: last day for appeals against acceptance/rejection of nomination papers
  • June 25: last day for decisions on appeals by election tribunals
  • June 26: list of validly nominated candidates will be published
  • June 27: last date for withdrawal of nomination papers
  • June 28: ROs to allocated election symbols to contesting candidates, the final list of candidates to be published

As pointed out by an ECP official earlier, this will be the first time in Pakistan’s electoral history that the scrutiny period, as well as, the poll campaign period has been increased to eight and 28 days, respectively.

The official had also informed that a meeting of the ECP aiming to straighten out the matter of symbols allocated to political parties has been called on May 29.

Moreover, elaborating on the ECP’s progress of preparations for the elections being carried out on schedule, he said that the delimitation of constituencies had been managed and the final electoral rolls are ready. The appointments of district returning officers (DROs), returning officers (ROs) and presiding officers (POs) has been wrapped up and their training will conclude on June 1.

The official further said that a total of 85,000 polling stations with around 285,000 polling booths would be set up across the country, while the polling staff’s training will conclude on July 15.

It is pertinent to mention here that elections for national and provincial assemblies are to be strictly held within 60 days after the completion of their tenure as per Article 224 of the Constitution