Army to have usual powers on election duty: ECP

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Demand was made by political parties

Sophia Siddiqui

Islamabad

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday clarified that security forces are being given the same powers as in every other election, adding the army is being called in on the request of political parties.
ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob, who was addressing a press conference said that the army is only being involved in security arrangements and that the army is not conducting the elections.
“Elections are being held as per Elections Act, 2017; returning officers are being trained while civil judges will also be present at the polling stations,” the official said. “Independent observers will be allowed access to the polling stations and returning forms but use of mobile phones is strictly prohibited inside the premises.”
The secretary reiterated that on election day, army personnel will be present within the polling station as well as outside it.
Security officials present at polling stations will also be responsible for reporting any discrepancies they witness during the polling.
“CCTV cameras are also being installed at 18,000 polling stations,” Yaqoob said while clarifying that the cameras are being put up in spots where voters’ secrecy will not be compromised.
He also said that mobile phones will not be allowed within the premises of the polling station.
He also said that the caretaker prime minister and agencies have been informed about the threat to the lives of various election candidates.
“All four provincial governments have been handed instructions for providing safety to election candidates and the commission is keeping an eye on the security arrangements made for them,” Yaqoob said.
Referring to the Peshawar attack, the top official said that authorities were more vigilant. “The finalised number for sensitive polling stations stands at 17,000,” Fateh said.
“The concerned departments have been informed to provide security to political leaders during election campaign including corner meetings,” he added
The ECP secretary also confirmed that the chief election commissioner has received a letter from the Facebook management.
“The letter has warned the commission about fake accounts posting bogus news on the website,” Yaqoob said, adding that Facebook has created a team to tackle the situation.
Predicting a higher turnout, the secretary said ECP was seeing national consensus on the matter as no party had boycotted elections. “Everyone wants the elections to be held on time,” he noted.

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