ECP’s illogical decision

THIS time around, the Election Commission of Pakistan undoubtedly appears to be more prepared and empowered to hold the general election in a smooth manner and it is satisfying to note that modern technology is also being used for this purpose. Whilst the Commission will have the support of army troops to guard the polling stations, we are confident that the election process will be completed peacefully.
However its decision on Friday to extend the polling time by one hour has come as a surprise which we understand will not help but create problems for the Commission in timely announcement of results not only from the constituencies in far flung rural areas but also the ones in big urban centres. Even in more populous countries such as India, the polling time from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm is observed. Then what was the need to extend the polling time to 6.00 pm appears to be lacking logic. We are not raising any doubts on the intention of the Commission as with this decision, it may be considering a greater participation and turn out of voters but at the same time the election body needs to look into the problems that the extension in polling time will create. In fact the Election Commission itself a few days back had rejected a similar proposal of PTI noting that the polling time can only be extended in a situation of extreme emergency on the Election Day. Indeed it has been seen on the polling days in the past that when balloting time ends, those standing in queue at the polling stations are allowed to cast their vote. The Commission should have adhered to this policy as extending the time will only slow down the polling process on the Election Day and then even at the end of polling time at six pm, the Commission will be required to allow those voters to cast their vote who are inside the polling station. With this, the polling staff especially in the rural areas will not be able to use the daylight for counting votes and ultimately the results will land at the ECP very late. So, we will ask the ECP to review its decision or ensure that the polling exactly ends at six pm and the process of counting is completed with efficiency and transparency at the earliest so that nobody could raise any fingers on the election results.

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