All is set to hold the general elections on July 25, Wednesday as all the arrangements including security steps have been finalized for conducting polls in free, fair and transparent manner in Rawalpindi division. According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sources, the basic facilities including electricity, drinking water, toilets for the polling staff and voters at all polling stations have been ensured in Rawalpindi division. The election campaign would terminate on the midnight falling between Monday and Tuesday.
The Commission had finalized Polling Schemes for seven National Assembly and 15 Provincial Assembly of the Punjab constituencies of Rawalpindi district while 6200 polling booths including 3,200 for male and 3,000 for female voters are being set up for polling. Total 2,576 Polling Stations have been set up in the district where 3,125,669 voters including 1,647,507 male and 1,478,162 female voters will cast their ballot to elect representation of their choice.
The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has activated the Result Transmission Service (RTS) to enable Returning Officers to send results to the ECP through the service. NADRA teams visited the offices of Returning Officers to activate RTS and according to the ECP, the presiding and assistant presiding officers have been given the software to use through smart phones. The presiding officers who did not have smart phones, the software linked to the smart phones of their respective subordinate staff which will be used to onward pass on the results of respective constituency after compilation.
Printing of ballot papers have also been completed while polling equipment already distributed among the ROs. ECP has also reviewed the preparations for the general elections and directed the provincial chief secretaries to ensure the security of Returning Officers and Polling staff in their respective provinces. The District Returning Officers and Returning Officers were appointed mostly from the lower judiciary, while the assistant returning officers were selected from the civil bureaucracy – mainly district administration group.
The District Returning Officer (DRO) Rawalpindi Muhammad Khalid Nawaz received election material including ballot boxes, seals, polling booths, ink, ballot papers and other necessary items which have been kept in double lock up under a tight security arrangement. The Commission has directly given election material to the concerned Returning Officers (ROs) in this regard. Training of polling staff, screens for compartment and seating arrangements for presiding officers in the constituencies has also been completed. The election commission has constituted a control room in every constituency of the district where one returning officer (RO) would remain present all the time to monitor the elections and polling activities through cameras installed in the polling stations.
Meanwhile, the DRO had directed the District Regional Transport Authority (DRTA) Secretary Khalid Yameen Satti to immediately arrange over 1,000 buses and wagons to dispatch the election material and election staff to their relative polling stations on the polling Day. Talking to APP, the Secretary RTA informed that the arrangement of buses and wagons would be finalized here till Monday.
In the Rawalpindi District 104 polling stations have been declared as highly sensitive while 91 others have been termed as sensitive. According to officials of the ECP, polling schemes for the seven National Assembly (NA) and 15 Provincial Assembly constituencies of Rawalpindi district had been finalized. As many as 75 candidates are competing for the NA seats while 166 candidates are vying for the PA seats. There are six heavyweight candidates in the running including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, former federal minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Raja Qamar ul Islam.—APP