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ECP denies security officers responsible for submitting election results

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has denied the impression that the security forces will be responsible for the submission of election results, saying that their role will be confined to security and maintaining law and order at polling stations.

ECP Secretary Babur Yaqub, speaking to media out the commission’s office on Tuesday, said those candidates who have claimed to have received threats or have security concerns should come forward, and those parties who candidates are being picked up can also submit anonymous complaints.

Mr. Yaqub stated the decision to deploy the armed forces was made by political parties, and that security forces have been deployed during past elections as well but no objections were raised.

He also said that code of conduct has been developed under which the submission of result will not be carried out by the army or security forces but rather by the presiding officer. However, the security officer can receive complaints by citizens against the election staff over any rigging or misconduct.

Expressing hope that turnout will be higher than previous elections and will strengthen democracy, he maintained that the ECP has the sole authority to conduct elections which cannot be handed over to any other institution.

He further said that allegations of rigging and misconduct were raised by politicians in every era, and their staff comprises civilians who are well trained to conduct elections being held under the Election Act.

He said that they supply of ballot papers to polling stations will commence soon under the supervision of the army. Furthermore, this time around even Returning Officers will be allowed to enter polling booths.

He said that there were security concerns during the elections and National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) has provided them information which was discussed in a meeting. The meeting also discussed perpetual threats by terrorists to target election candidates, party heads and other political personalities.

Speaking about the meeting between Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) delegation with the Chief Election Commissioner, he said that Senator Sherry Rehman has apprised about the hurdles faced by party candidates during election campaign. He said that the ECP took notice of stopping Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s convoy in Punjab and the caretaker chief minister has been instructed to initiate any inquiry.

Mr. Yaqub said that over 17,000 polling stations have been declared sensitive in the polls, where CCTVs will be placed and armed forces will be deployed. Furthermore, arrangement will be made for the security of party leaders and candidates prior to the general elections, as it was necessary to maintain law and order and enhance security arrangements.

Regarding the alleged threats to candidates, the secretary said that those receiving any threatening messages or calls should come forward and inform the commission, and those parties who candidates were harassed or picked up can write a letter to express their reservations.

He said that election will be conducted on 849 seats across the country, while ballot papers of hundred constituencies have still not been printed, while ten million women failed to register themselves as voters.

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