Amid enhanced security measures, election authorities have directed provincial chapters to ensure that all election material is handed over to the presiding officers in time as campaigning for the August 22 by-polls concluded at midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already identified sensitive as well as highly sensitive polling stations in all of the 42 constituencies.
On Tuesday, the ECP issued directives to all provincial election commissioners to convey the presiding officers that no voter should be allowed to take his/her cell phones inside the polling booth.
Those carrying cell phones would have to submit it to the presiding officer and then take it back after they have cast their vote.
The step has been taken to discourage the trend where some contestants purchase votes and ensure that these are cast in their favour. The voter is asked to take a picture of the ballot paper after making the vote stamp as evidence.
An ECP spokesman told The Express Tribune that all election material has reached the returning officers and they had been directed to hand it over to the presiding officers today (Wednesday) a day before the polling.
These presiding officers have been given powers of a first-class magistrate for three days – from August 21 to August 23, so that they can perform their duties effectively.
The officer in-charge of the army, Rangers and FC in a constituency will also have similar powers but only on the polling day. The commission has also issued SOPs for use of these powers.
By polls in DI Khan postponed
Barely a day after the ECP decided to go ahead with by-polls in all constituencies, it decided to postpone the polls in Dera Ismail Khan’s National Assembly constituency NA-25.
The ECP issued a notificationon Tuesday in which it stated that it has received a report from the district and sessions judge, who is also the returning officer, regarding the law and order situation in the constituency. The notification said that after receiving this report it had decided to postpone the polls. However, highly placed sources said that elections in this constituency were postponed on the insistence of the defence secretary who had warned the ECP that security agencies had ‘credible’ reports that terrorists could carry out attacks on August 22 in the city.
Sources said that during Monday’s meeting at the ECP central secretariat, the defence secretary had expressed apprehensions over security situation in DI Khan.
However, K-P chief secretary opposed the idea of postponement and said that the situation in many other districts was equally bad. The chief secretary proposed that in DI Khan and other sensitive areas, law enforcement should be augmented.
However on Tuesday, the election commission was again conveyed that it will be dangerous to go with polls in DI Khan, and this prompted it to postpone by-polls.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ