CEC stresses security for all political leaders ahead of Feb 8 polls

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja directs relevant authorities and officials to strictly follow the election code of conduct

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presides over a meeting on the February 8 general elections on January 17, 2023. — INP
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presides over a meeting on the February 8 general elections on January 17, 2023. — INP
  • Authorities, LEAs asked to strictly follow election code of conduct.
  • Timely administrative and security arrangements stressed for polls.
  • “There will be strict monitoring of elections,” Sikandar Sultan Raja.

ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: In a meeting held at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja ordered ensuring the security of leaders and voters of all political parties, as the country gears up for the much-anticipated general elections, scheduled to take place on February 8, The News reported on Thursday.

The electoral body’s chief — in the meeting to review the law and order and security situation — has also directed relevant authorities and officials to strictly follow the election code of conduct, stressing that it was the responsibility of the administration and law enforcement agencies to ensure timely administrative and security arrangements for the peaceful, safe and successful conduct of polls.

Chief secretaries of the four provinces, inspectors general of police (IGPs) and chief commissioner Islamabad informed the meeting that all arrangements for holding elections were complete and all preparations were also complete to deal with any kind of situation.

Safety and security, the CEC emphasised, were imperative so that political parties, candidates and voters were provided with a conducive environment in which they could exercise their right to vote without fear.

The meeting was told that there were threat alerts in some parts of the country, but no stone would be left unturned to hold peaceful elections and that arrangements for the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at all sensitive polling stations were also complete. Besides timely supply of funds to all departments concerned was being ensured.

The Balochistan chief secretary (CS) said peace committees were also being formed at the polling station level to help maintain a peaceful atmosphere at the polling stations. The Punjab CS said clear policy instructions should be issued on changes in the allotment of election symbols so that the elections were not delayed. To this, the CEC said the printing of ballot papers was going on. “Therefore, if any changes are made in the election symbols now, it will be difficult to hold elections in those constituencies.”

The interior secretary informed the meeting that control rooms had been set up at the federal level to monitor the elections. The interior ministry, he added, was in touch with all institutions and all steps were in place to assist the ECP and to hold peaceful elections.

All the IGPs were assured that other security agencies would be engaged wherever there was a shortage of police. The meeting emphasised that the negligence of any institution or polling staff in the peaceful conduct of elections would not be tolerated.

CEC Sikandar Sultan said if any candidate or any other person violates the law and code of conduct, strict action would be taken against them. “There will be strict monitoring of elections and polls will be held according to schedule,” he added. The meeting was informed that the repair work of flood-affected polling stations was going on in full swing and it would be completed before the elections.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chief secretary informed the meeting that all roads would be kept open and public access to polling stations in the snow-hit districts would be ensured on the election day. The CEC thanked the participants and expressed satisfaction with all measures and arrangements made for the conduct of elections. He said under Article (3)218 of the Constitution, it is the responsibility of the Election Commission to conduct peaceful and transparent elections and it would fulfil its responsibility in that regard diligently.

Meanwhile, a three-member Lahore High Court (LHC) bench – headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi – announced the reserved verdict on more than 60 petitions, including those of Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Parvez Elahi and others, dismissing their appeals against the rejection of their nomination papers. The bench also rejected a petition filed by the counsel for the PTI founder and upheld the decisions of the returning officer (RO) and appellate tribunal, which had rejected his nomination papers and review petitions for NA-89 Mianwali and NA-122 Lahore. Under the LHC ruling, Imran cannot contest the 2024 elections now.

Shah Mehmood had challenged the rejection of his nomination from NA-150, NA-151 and PP-218. The bench dismissed the review petition, filed by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi for the rejection of his nomination papers from four constituencies, including NA-64, NA-69 as well as PP-32 and PP-34.

Similarly, review petitions filed by Sanam Javaid from NA-119 and NA-120, Hammad Azhar and Khurram Latif Khosa were also rejected. Sanam Javaid had also challenged the rejection of her nomination papers from PP-150. Fawad Chaudhry’s application against the rejection of nomination papers from NA-60 and NA-61 was also dismissed. The court also rejected a petition filed against the rejection of nomination papers of his wife, Hiba Fawad.

The nomination papers of Rehana Dar, mother of Umar and Usman Dar, were however accepted from NA-71 and PP-46. She would contest against PMLN leader Khawaja Asif. Separately, applications were filed against the approval of nomination papers of former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif with the Lahore High Court. The petitioner took the plea that Nawaz and Shehbaz were the masterminds of an attack on the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The case was pending with the SC, but an appellate tribunal approved their papers contrary to the facts, which was against the law. He requested the court to annul the approval of nomination papers and stop the duo from contesting elections.

Meanwhile, Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Usman Anwar has said that 19 politicians in the province were facing security threats. Talking to the media after attending the ECP meeting in Islamabad, he said he could not disclose the names of the politicians due to security concerns. He said Punjab was facing a shortage of 92,000 security personnel at polling stations. There would be more than 50,000 polling stations this time around. He said 120,000 personnel had been deployed for election duty in Punjab, while the number in the previous elections was 60,000. The IGP also stressed that the environment in Punjab was conducive to holding elections.  

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