ECP instructs cops to stay outside polling stations

ISLAMABAD/
LAHORE:

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued guidelines for law enforcement agencies deployed for election duty and provision of foolproof security during the upcoming general elections on Feb 8.

As per the Code of Conduct issued in pursuance of Article 220 of the Constitution read with sections five and 233 of the Elections Act, 2017, the police personnel would stay on duty outside the polling stations and “not act in favour of or against any political party or candidate in any manner whatsoever”.

The directions from the poll supervisor came after caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar constituted a seven-member committee mandated with ensuring the smooth conduct of the upcoming general elections as well as overseeing their security arrangements.

The ECP clarified that its Code of Conduct would not apply to the armed forces and civil armed forces, as a separate one was being issued for them.

“[The police personnel will] not ask the voters to produce their ‘Perchees’ or prove their identity as it is the duty of polling officer.

“… not disallow any eligible voter to enter the polling station as entering a polling station to cast his/her vote is an inviolable right of the voter who has been assigned to vote at that polling station,” according to the code.

The ECP guidelines bar security personnel from acting in such a manner, which may draw an impression of being partial or biased, as well as assuming the duties of polling staff in any case whatsoever.

“… not take into custody any election material including ballot papers, marking aid stamps, official code mark stamps, electoral rolls, ballot boxes etc.

Read also: Threat alerts in some parts of country, ECP told

“… not enter into arguments/altercations with any contesting candidates, election agents, polling agents, observers or media persons in any manner. Not interfere in any manner whatsoever in the function of Presiding Officer, Assistant Presiding Officer or Polling Officer. Not respond at their own to an apparent irregularity outside polling station rather they shall bring the matter to the knowledge of Presiding Officer and take necessary direction from him in the matter.”

As per the code, the security personnel will “not object on the presence of the candidate, his/her election agent or his/her polling agent or observer if any, during the counting process”.

They will “not arrest any person at the polling station unless explicitly instructed by the Presiding Officer to do so, and not interfere in the counting process in any manner rather shall continue to provide peaceful environment outside the polling station for completion of counting process unless a malpractice in counting process has been identified. ln that case, he shall inform his officer ln-Charge through the fastest means available, who will inform the Returning Officer”.

They will allow the accredited observers and media persons to enter a polling station.

Meanwhile, the ECP has provided the police force a new formula for the security of highly sensitive, sensitive and C Category polling stations.

“Five officials will be deployed at highly sensitive, four at sensitive and three at C Category polling stations.”

Earlier, the commission had given the formula of appointing six officials for highly sensitive, five for sensitive and four for C Category stations. However, the police had informed the ECP that it lacked manpower.

Read: ECP poll preparations enter final stages

Of 49,817 polling stations, the Punjab police has declared 5,624 highly sensitive, 14,072 sensitive and 30,000 normal.

Up to 130,000 young policemen will perform duty on the election day.

The Punjab police demanded Rs1.19 billion of the provincial government for the election security duty. Of the total amount, Rs530 million has been asked for petrol and Rs660 million for the purchase of food and security equipment.

There are more than 4,300 polling stations in Lahore, of which more than 3,800 in the highly sensitive and sensitive category.

The Lahore CCPO ordered deployment of CIA and Investigation Wing personnel for election duty.

A control room has been set up at the IG office to monitor the election process.

The police officials said the AIG operations would supervise the control room, adding that 15 additional data operators had been deployed at the control room.

They said that the control room would also take reports regarding any violation during the election rallies.

Police inspectors in all districts have been appointed as focal persons for timely reports at the control room.


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