ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was told Tuesday that terrorism during the upcoming general elections to the assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and by-polls for the National Assembly could not be ruled out.
With a view to have an update on the law and order and security situation, the ECP invited the stakeholders to its secretariat, wherein, Inspector General Police (IGP), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Moazzam Jah Ansari, told the forum during a briefing that a total of around 150,000 security personnel were required for security and there was a shortage of 57,000 personnel.
He explained to the meeting the shortage cannot be met even by acquiring services of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan police. He added even if the required strength was available, he could not promise completely peaceful elections.
The IGP pointed out that the police were being targeted continuously by terrorists and so far 494 attacks had been carried out against the police force in the province in 2022 alone, while during the current year, 46 attacks had happened hitherto.
Presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, the meeting was attended by the members of the commission, secretary ECP, chief secretary, IGP as well as senior officials of the commission.
The top police officer said the number of police personnel martyred during 2022 was 119, whereas 93 had been martyred during the first five weeks of the current year. The Inspector General noted that the services of the army and Frontier Corps would be needed to make up for the shortage of police personnel.
At this, the CEC told the meeting that the ECP was in touch with the ministries of defence and interior in connection with the deployment of army and FC for the electoral exercise.
He sought more working on the matter from the IG Police and asked him to inform the ECP at the earliest, so that the institutions could be approached in time.
Earlier, the CEC laid emphasis on the conduct of transparent polls and called for appointment of impartial officers during the electoral exercise.
In this connection, he asked the chief secretary and IGP to ensure appointment of all officers on administrative posts with this in view. He asked them to inform the commission in case of any complaint against or affiliation with some political party of district returning officers (DROs) and Returning Officers (ROs) appointed for elections, so that action could be taken against them.
The chief secretary KPK assured him that in line with the ECP’s instructions, the appointment of impartial officers in all the districts will be ensured.
Meanwhile, the ECP adjourned till February 22, the hearing of Jamaat-e-Islami case, alleging manipulation of results during the recently-held local government elections in Karachi.
The four-member bench of the commission, headed by Member Sindh Nisar Durrani, heard the case and asked the JI to submit original forms 11 to the commission.
The bench noted that under the law, all the JI’s objections were premature and the real situation would be cleared only after compilation of the LG poll results.
Provincial Minister Sindh Saeed Ghani, who appeared before the commission, proposed re-polling on the controversial polling stations.
The ECP bench also heard petitions filed by PTI Sindh President Ali Zaidi’s petitions. The PTI counsel alleged that most of the returning officers, who were brought from Interior Sindh, carried out the worst rigging to convert PTI’s victory into a defeat.
Separately, PTI’s Secretary General Asad Umar filed his nomination papers to contest from NA-54 in the upcoming by-election, fixed for March 16.
Previously, it was announced by PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry that party Chairman Imran would contest from all the 33 NA constituencies. However, a few days back, he decided to stay away from the by-poll process and directed the party members to run for these seats.
Asad Umar had contested from this constituency in 2018 general election and defeated PML-N’s Anjum Aqeel with a convincing margin. He had bagged 56,945 votes while Anjum could get 32,991 votes.
Meanwhile, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique has said that general elections should be held across the country at the stipulated time. He said that it was not possible to hold elections for the whole year.
Talking to newsmen in Lahore on Tuesday, he said the country was in the grip of an acute financial crisis, so it was not possible to hold elections for provincial and National Assemblies separately.
He further stated that the government’s top priority was to improve the economic condition of the country.
He said that the Constitution has given power to the leader of the House to dissolve the assembly and Imran Khan cannot dissolve the assembly. The assemblies were dissolved without completing the term without any reason.
Saad Rafique said that the whole nation should be united in the fight against terrorism and Tehreek-e-Insaf should participate in the APC. He further added that the PTI should show some seriousness.
The federal minister said that the country will suffer from chaos due to repeated elections. If the elections are held separately, more crises will arise. The observance of the Constitution is a priority, but the elections have been postponed before.
“We have been fighting the elections, we will still fight. We have never run away from the elections, the Election Commission is a constitutional institution.”
Saad Rafique further said that the elections should not be a game but should be held at one time, there were no such circumstances that allowed dissolution of two provincial assemblies. He also said that the assemblies were dissolved by putting pressure on the chief ministers. The situation of the country cannot afford any more chaos, he added.
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