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Friday, April 19, 2024

ECP seeks military’s help for by-polls in 3 provinces

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja writes a letter to COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa requesting security coverage.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday sought the military’s assistance to conduct by-polls in Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as well as for local body polls in Sindh, The News reported.

The development came after violence in NA 240 by-poll in Karachi last week claimed one life. Meanwhile, clashes in Lahore’s Johar Town between PTI and PML-N workers on Sunday left several injured.

In a letter to Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja said that “in view of the charged political atmosphere and extreme polarisation in the country deployment outside the polling stations during the by-polls for four Punjab Assembly constituencies of Lahore (PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170), one KP assembly seat (PK-7), and one National Assembly constituency in Sindh (NA-245) might be provided to avoid violence as was witnessed in the recent Karachi by-poll (NA-240) and a clash between two political parties in Lahore (PP-167).”

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Referring to the armed forces’ support during the general and local elections in KP and Balochistan, Raja said he “hoped for a similar help in conducting the by-polls and two phases of local government elections in Sindh on June 25 and July 24.”

Polling for 20 constituencies in Punjab is to be held on July 17, for PK-7 on June 26, and for NA-245 on July 27. The first phase of Sindh local elections will be held on June 26 and the second on July 24, while the by-elections will be held in NA-245 on July 27.

The CEC explained that under Article 220, all executive authorities were required to assist the ECP and the CEC in discharging their duties.

The CEC also wrote a letter to Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah “concerning the upcoming poll processes in his province. Raja said he hoped that strict action would be taken against the culprits involved in the violence during the by-election for NA-240 irrespective of their party affiliations and expected that the provincial government would beef up the level of administrative and security arrangements for the forthcoming NA-245 by-polls and the local government polls in the province.”

“It may also be essential to call the assistance of the Army/Sindh Rangers at sensitive constituencies and static deployment outside the sensitive polling station,” Raja stated.