ECP mulls army deployment at 'sensitive' polling stations

Published: June 14, 2018


ISLAMABAD: The election authorities are considering the option of deploying the army in and outside all polling stations in an effort to ensure smooth conduct of the general elections scheduled for July 25.

“Officials of army, rangers and police assigned the security duties during the general elections would be given training about the election process and a code of conduct would be provided to them enlisting their duties,” a top ECP official told The Express Tribune.

The ECP in a meeting attended by the director general military operations, defence secretary, chief secretaries and IGs of the provinces reviewed security arrangements for the elections.

There will be more than 85,000 polling stations situated in around 45,000 buildings across the country.

ECP devises security plan for polls today

The ECP through the Ministry of Defence will send a request for the army’s deployment.

In the past, the army was usually deployed at polling stations tagged ‘sensitive’ and ‘most sensitive’. For the next month’s polls, around 22,000 polling stations would fall in that category.

This is for the first time the ECP would be teaching the election process to security officials so that they can take informed decisions.

The ECP official said the step has been taken to ensure security officials know exactly what their role is, where they can intervene and where they cannot.

Officials of the ECP would train master trainers of those departments who would further impart training to their staff to be deputed on the election duty.

In addition to the general training, the ECP would develop a code of conduct for the law-enforcement agencies elaborating their role.

“The presiding officer is in charge of a polling station. All other officials — including those deputed for the purpose of ensuring security — should be assisting him/her,” the official said, adding there were incidents in the past where officials deputed were found to be confused about their role.

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The meeting also decided that the military will oversee printing and distribution of ballot papers for the upcoming general elections.

Speaking to the media, ECP spokesperson Nadeem Qasim said, “The army will be providing security for the printing and distribution of ballot papers.”

“Security of the government printing presses where ballot papers would be printed will be handed over to the army from June 27,” he added.

“Keeping in view the security plan implemented during the general elections 2013, we reviewed the current security situation for the upcoming polls,” he said.

Qasim revealed that CCTV cameras will be installed in around 20,000 polling stations deemed sensitive.

“The responsibility of installing the cameras lies with the provincial government,” he stressed.

“We will also take the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) on board,” he added

The ECP representative said the provincial governments had been directed to ensure security of political leaders.

It is learnt that the ECP would develop liaison with Nacta to access security threats to politicians, ECP buildings, buildings to be used for training of staff and polling stations.

Having a history of attacks on its officials in some areas during the last elections, the ECP is concerned about the security of election staff — including ROs.

The ECP has hired the services of 0.8 million government servants from different departments for the election duty.

Attacks were carried out on the ECP officials in Balochistan during the last elections in which few officials had lost their lives.

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