Political players ask ECP, interim setup to avert pre-poll rigging

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ISLAMABAD: Representatives of various political parties and election mentoring watchdogs on Thursday stressed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the interim setup to play a pro-active role to avert any kind of pre-poll rigging.

They were of the view that this was the only way to build the confidence of the voters and political parties besides increasing the voters’ turnout on the day of polling.

“The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should work out a comprehensive plan to hold the election in free, fair and transparent manner,” Leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafar ul Haq said while talking to APP on Wednesday.

He said that the ECP’s decision must not convey any biased impression as the commission could not give the decision in the favour or against someone on the basis of favouritism adding that the watchdog must not be influenced by any person and party.

“The impartial ECP can only build voter confidence and increase their turnover in the upcoming election,” Zafar remarked.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Farooq H Naik stressed that the ECP must adhere to the code of conduct issued by it to avoid rigging in the upcoming election. The commission should introduce a system enabling the polling and returning officers to check the originality of voters in order to discourage the common practice of bogus voting.

“The Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) must be checked properly and if a polling agent raises any objection, it must be facilitated at the spot,” the senator added.

A nominated candidate of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from NA-125 Dr Yasmeen Rashid was of the view that ECP must stand a firm and “call a spade a spade by punishing the wrongdoers”.

Yasmeen said the ECP should also make some transfers and posting at low level especially those who are likely to be appointed as polling officer and agents as it reshuffled bureaucracy at provincial and federal level.

“The commission and interim government have to play proactive role to avoid any kind of polls rigging”, she added.

Commenting on pre-poll rigging probability expressed by some segments, Chairman Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) Sarwar Bari said that according to data received from FAFEN’s representatives from 130 districts of the country, 90 per cent office-bearers of all contesting political parties have accepted that a level playing field is available for them.

He said that the data was collected with a focus on components included content analysis of local newspapers to observe coverage to everyone, free political activities and free holding of public gathering, procession, rallies etc.

He said that on the basis of these checklists, office-bearers of all contesting political parties, including the PPP, PML-N, and PTI, have expressed their satisfaction over availability of level playing field and for this the role of the ECP, local administration and caretaker government is important for provision of level playing field for all contesting political parties.