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July 3, 2018

ECP alerts caretaker govt about possibility of terror attacks


July 3, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has notified the caretaker government formally about the possibility of terror attacks in the country aimed at disrupting the electoral process and the election itself, The News has learnt reliably. In the said notice, the ECP has urged the federal government to deal with this threat to ensure the smooth conduct of elections.

The ECP has not only pointed to threats and challenges but has also proposed certain specific steps to effectively handle these threats. It has urged the government to take certain measures which include installation of CCTV cameras, provision of extra security to ECP officials, election staff and political leaders who may be on the hit-list of terrorists.

The News is in possession of details of a briefing provided by the ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad to the caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk. According to these details, the country’s 20789 polling stations and 60100 polling booths have been marked as ‘sensitive’. In Balochistan, as many as 1768 polling stations and 3536 polling booths are sensitive while in KP some 7386 polling stations and 21158 polling booths have been given this status. In Punjab the number is smaller than in KP. 5686 polling stations and 15466 polling booths have been declared sensitive. In Sindh 5776 polling stations and 19387 polling booths are sensitive. The Federal Capital has 173 polling stations and 573 polling booths that have been marked ‘sensitive’.

The ECP has stated that the threat covers possible attacks on polling stations and booths as well as training and polling staff. The ECP cited the example of Kharan district where the master Trainer of the election staff refused to perform election duty for fear of threats from insurgents.

According to details of the ECP’s briefing to the caretaker PM, insurgents may seek to undermine the election process in Balochistan by attacking polling stations, polling staff and election commission officials. The Punjab is considered to be relatively secure as compared to the other provinces but is also under threat where terrorists may wish to create hurdles in the smooth conduct of elections, whereas in Karachi one or the other factions of the various linguistic or ethnic groups may pose challenges to the smooth conduct of polling.

The KP is the province in which not only the political parties but also their workers and leaders may face threats from terrorists. In the former Fata region, it is believed that one particular organisation poses a threat to the smooth conduct of elections.

Actions proposed by the ECP include activating teams of District Monitoring Officials to monitor security as well as the election process.

Further, vigilance teams be established in every province to work in close coordination with security agencies as well as with ECP. CCTV cameras should be installed at least at sensitive polling stations, security should be beefed up at training venues set up for Presiding Officers and Senior Assistant Presiding Officers.

Similarly, security of political leaders, candidates, polling staff and ECP officials be ensured. Lastly the ECP briefing recommends the provision of aerial support for transportation of ballot papers from printing presses to various districts.

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