ECP warns law enforcement agencies against bias in performing election duties

Protocol stresses impartiality barring security personnel from acting in favour or against any political party or candidate

Security officials standing alert outside a polling station during by-elections of the NA-133 constituency, in Lahore, on December 5, 2021. — APP
Security officials standing alert outside a polling station during by-elections of the NA-133 constituency, in Lahore, on December 5, 2021. — APP
  • LEAs to also provide security for printing, transporting of ballots.
  • ECP directs security personnel to remain “impartial and neutral”.
  • Bars them from acting in favour of or against any political party.

As electioneering takes pace with the February 8 elections less than a month away, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Friday issued its “Code of Conduct for Security Personnel”, warning them against bias while being on election duty.

The ECP’s protocol, which excludes the Armed Forces and Civil Armed Forces, directs the law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to perform their duties in accordance with the law and within the confines of the mandate assigned to the police.

Security personnel — who will provide security for the printing and transport of ballot papers along with the polling bags — will perform their duties under Article 220 of the Constitution of Pakistan, Section 5 read with Section 193 of the Election Act, 2017.

Directing the security apparatus to cooperate with district returning officers (DROs), returning officers (ROs) and presiding officers (POs), the electoral body has stressed the need for LEAs to “remain impartial and neutral throughout the election process […] and shall not act in favour of or against any political party or candidate in any manner whatsoever”.

Underscoring the significance of ensuring a peaceful and transparent polling process, the ECP has warned security personnel against disallowing a voter to cast his/her vote.

Shortage of security personnel

With the election window closing day by day, the country faces an acute shortage of security personnel for upcoming polls — a fact which is exacerbated by growing terror-related incidents in the country.

Punjab, the country’s election battleground, faces a shortage of 92,000 security personnel at polling stations.

Meanwhile, Karachi Police is facing a shortage of 14,300 security personnel including female cops.

The city requires 46,076 police personnel for the election security plan — of which the Karachi Police have only 31,776.

Owing to concerns regarding the law and order situation on February 8, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has formed a high-level committee to oversee security for the polls.

The seven-member committee, headed by Federal Minister for Communications, Railways, and Maritime Affairs Shahid Ashraf Tarar, includes the Ministry of Interior’s secretary and the chief secretaries of all four provinces.

Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) which has faced the brunt of terrorist attacks only has 89,959 police personnel out of the 115,430 needed for general elections — a shortfall of 25,471 security personnel.

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