Secretary Election Commission Ishtiaq Ahmed has said that the printing of ballot papers was complete for all the provinces except Punjab and that their bulk distribution was already initiated by the Pakistan Army.
He told a press conference on Sunday that out of 180 million, 150 million ballot papers were already printed and sent to Fata, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkwa and Balochistan. “The rest of the 30 million ballot papers, which need to be sent to Punjab, are still being printed but will be soon sent to the province,” he said.
The ECP secretary said that the poll body had received the final list of polling stations according to which 69,875 stations have been set up across the country.
He added that the ECP has so far received 313 complaints regarding polling stations. He also said that to register any more complaints people should contact their District Returning Officers by Monday.
Responding to a question, the secretary said that in keeping with the Supreme Court directive the electoral body has not made unnecessary changes in the list of polling stations used in 2008.
He added that the apex court had also asked the ECP to establish polling stations keeping in mind the distance it would take for the voters to travel. The SC had directed ECP to keep the polling station within two kilometres from each other.
The secretary stated that though the top court had asked the election commission to explore the feasibility of transport provision to the voters on the polling day, keeping in mind the budget estimates it was not a viable idea. However, he clarified that political parties are still restricted to arrange for the voters’ transportation.
Ahmed said, “there are chances that mobile service can be suspended (on polling day) as part of security arrangements as provinces are working on this in collaboration with federation”. He requested the voters to get their E-Tickets soon to avoid any inconvenience due to the ban on cell service on the polling day.
Replying to a query with reference to the Pakistan Peoples Party’s paid content being aired on news channels against Pakistan Muslim League’s leadership, he said that personal attacks were strictly prohibited. He added that chairman PEMRA has been directed to immediately put the said content off air and submit the expenditure report of these ads at ECP.
He told a questioner that security arrangements would be further strengthened for the high profile leadership, candidates, polling stations and ECP’s staffers in coming days.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2013.