ECP faces dearth of polling staff for election duty

  • Commission concerned about shortage of police as 20,000 polling stations declared sensitive

LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is facing a dearth of staff for performing duties at polling stations during the July 25 general elections, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to sources, the ECP has not been able to secure adequate staff for performing the duties on the polling day despite as the elections inch in closer by the day. The ECP has reportedly written a letter to chief executive officers of the education department in various districts and requested them for staff.

Sources said that requesting for staff at this moment will only create a mess on the election day as they will lack training because there is not much time left for their training.  “But the ECP wants to hold off elections on July 25 and wants the staff for this purpose at the earliest,” they added.

They also said that some influential polling personnel nominated by their departments have excused themselves from the duty on certain grounds despite the fact that they have received training from the ECP.  Moreover, some influential candidates contesting for national and provincial assembly seats have managed to get the polling stations of their opponents’ voters shifted to distant areas to keep them from voting on the polling day.

When contacted, Huda Ali Gohar, a spokesperson for the provincial election commission, said that she was not aware whether the ECP had written any letter to CEOs of education authorities requesting for polling staff.

Moreover, the ECP has also concerns on a number of police personnel available for the upcoming polls and deem the number as inadequate since 20,000 polling stations have been declared sensitive so far.

ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob on Monday briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior in Islamabad and expressed concerns that police security for the upcoming polls may prove inadequate as there may be international attempts to sabotage the election.

The ECP secretary said that a request for the services of the army has been put through but the army is busy guarding both the western and eastern borders of the country.

On the other hand, caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Syed Ali Zafar said that the caretaker government would do its utmost to ensure free, fair, transparent and peaceful general elections. He said that armed forces and other security forces would fulfil their constitutional obligations if the need arose. He added that all the political parties would be given level playing field to run their campaign in the elections.