The Finance Ministry has assured the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that Rs17 billion will be released “in a day or two” to address concerns raised by the ECP about the delay in urgently needed funds for the February 8 polls. The Finance Secretary, Imdadullah Bosal, assured the ECP that the funds would be released promptly.
The ECP had initially requested Rs. 51 billion, later settling for Rs.47 billion, with only Rs. 5 billion released in the previous fiscal year. Despite repeated requests to the Finance Ministry and a written reminder, there was no positive response, prompting the ECP to summon the finance secretary.
Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi, dismissed any crisis, stating that the ECP’s financial needs would be met as per its budgeted requirements. The government had allocated Rs. 42 billion in the budget, but only Rs10 billion has been released so far. The ECP, perturbed by the delay, considered writing to the caretaker Prime Minister for intervention but decided against it following the finance secretary’s assurance.
In a related development, the ECP requested the deployment of the army and civil armed forces outside polling stations due to a shortfall of over 277,000 police personnel nationwide.
The ECP cited the fragile security and law-and-order situation, indicating that the Pakistan Army and Civil Armed Forces would be requisitioned to ensure smooth elections. The ECP sought confirmation of their availability by December 7, 2023, for presentation before the Commission. The letter highlighted police personnel shortfalls in different provinces, including Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, and Islamabad.