ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday announced plans to appoint lower court judges as district returning officers (DROs) and returning officer (ROs), while assistant returning officers (AROs) have been posted from district administration to supervise the upcoming general elections, due by end of July this year.
ECP announced it would appoint district and session judges as district returning officers (DROs) in 131 districts, except for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and three restive districts of Balochistan province.
In seven agencies of Fata, political agents would be DROs, while in Frontier Region Peshawar, Bannu and Kohat commissioner Bannu division would be DRO.
Similarly, most of the ROs will be from lower judiciary while AROs will be mostly from district administration group.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) there will be 25 DROs who are sessions judges. For 39 directly elected seats of the National Assembly (NA) in the province, there will be one RO for each seat who are sessions judges or senior civil judges. For 99 provincial assembly seats, a civil judge would supervise one constituency each as RO.
In Punjab, a total of 36 DROs have been appointed — all of whom are district and session judges of the respective districts. For 141 National Assembly seats in Punjab, same numbers of additional district and session judges have been appointed as ROs.
Elections for 297 provincial assembly seats will be supervised by 297 senior civil judges as ROs.
In Sindh, a total of 27 DRO have been appointed. All of them are district and session judges, while 61 additional district and session judges will be supervising polls for the national assembly seats in the province. For 130 provincial assembly seats, as many civil judges have been appointed as ROs.
In Balochistan 34 DROs have been appointed. For 16 NA seats, Most of the ROs have been appointed from the lower judiciary. For 51 provincial assembly (PA) seats in the province, as many ROs have been appointed.
For Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), a sessions judge will be DRO while three additional district and session judges will be ROs for the three NA seats from the federal capital.
NADRA to develop software to facilitate scrutiny
Election authorities have tasked National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to develop software that would link relevant institutions providing information to the returning officers during scrutiny of nomination papers of candidates for upcoming elections.
Moreover, the ECP during the day in a meeting decided that returning officers would get help from NAB, FBR, FIA and State Bank of Pakistan in the scrutiny of nomination papers.
Once the software is ready, ECP would analyse it and check it applicability before approving it.
ECP has called a meeting today (Tuesday) of all provincial chief secretaries, additional chief secretary Fata and chief commissioner Islamabad to get a progress report on missing facilities at the proposed polling stations across the country.
The meeting will also discuss procurement and installation of CCTV cameras at most sensitive polling stations. It will also assess the list of officials to be appointed as polling staff and review the law and order situation during the election process including pre-poll election campaign especially after the attack on interior minister.