Local govt elections: Candidates decry poor arrangements

ECP extends deadline by one day.


Our Correspondent November 13, 2013
A returning officer scrutinises a candidate's nomination papers. PHOTO: NNI/ FILE

RAWALPINDI:


Only 590 candidates could file their nomination papers on Tuesday, publicised as the last day for submitting applications for the upcoming local government elections as most of them did not know where to go.


A large number of candidates spent the whole day visiting offices of returning officers, trying to find out where to file their nomination papers. A great rush of candidates was witnessed at the offices of returning officers on what was previously thought to be the deadline for filing nomination papers. Forms were accepted till 8pm.

Candidates slammed the government for only giving them two days to file their papers. They also criticised the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for randomly setting up offices for filing nomination papers, terming it an attempt to postpone the elections.

The candidates demanded an extension in the deadline and the Election Commission obliged, granting them another day. Candidates from Murree and Kotli Sattian were asked to file their papers in Rawalpindi. “Even here in Rawalpindi, the ECP did not say where we should file our papers,” said Muhammad Azam, a resident of Kotli Sattian. “The ECP’s haste will make the election a waste.”



They came down hard upon the government for not properly publicising returning officers’ addresses, causing great hardship to them. “I visited five returning officers’ offices before learning where I should file my papers,” said Abdul Ahad, a resident of Murree. But unlike the past, most of candidates came alone without a procession of supporters in tow.

Most candidates were unable to fill the nomination forms which were printed in English and were asking others to help them fill them out. They had to wait for hours due to the slow process of verification of voters’ lists.

Cashing in on the opportunity, oath commissioners fleeced candidates by charging Rs400 to 500 to fill a form. The candidates were asked to pay in cash and not through cheques, due to which some of them exchanged harsh words with returning officers.

When contacted, Rawalpindi District Coordination Officer Sajid Zafar said the offices of returning officers were set up by the ECP to avoid a rush. He appreciated the ECP’s decision to disallow supporters from accompanying candidates. “Security is already on high alert and we are taking utmost care to avoid a rush in the market to ensure public safety,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2013.

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