The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Babar Fateh has said that the concerned authorities have been asked to provide security to political leaders and candidates during their campaigns, including corner meetings.
The statement comes two days after the Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour and 19 other people were killed in a blast during the party’s electioneering rally in Peshawar.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Fateh urged electoral candidates being threatened or pressurised to approach and inform the ECP beforehand.
Referring to the Peshawar attack, the top official said that authorities were more vigilant. “The finalised number for sensitive polling stations stands at 17,000,” Fateh said.
“The concerned departments have been informed to provide security to political leaders during election campaign including corner meetings,” he added
On the role of the armed forces in the elections, Fateh said the army was not conducting elections but rendering support to the commission. “Army will be assisting the commission by providing security and logistic support for the ballot papers.”
“Elections are being held as per Elections Act, 2017; returning officers are being trained while civil judges will also be present at the polling stations,” the official said. “Independent observers will be allowed access to the polling stations and returning forms but use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited inside the premises.”
Fateh said the ECP had not received any complaints as yet but was prepared to take action if need be. “The electoral process will be completed under the Commission. Only the commission has powers to deploy staff, accept or reject nomination papers, print ballot paper and prepare polling schemes,” he asserted.
Predicting a higher turnout, the secretary said ECP was seeing national consensus on the matter as no party had boycotted elections. “Everyone wants the elections to be held on time,” he noted.
Fake Facebook accounts
Fateh said the electoral authority is considering Facebook’s offer to help remove bogus content from the social networking site ahead of the polls.
According to the official, Facebook had written to the commission offering to help contain fake accounts and remove potential threats.