ISLAMABAD, Jan 8: Thanks to a prompt intervention by the defence ministry, a possible delay in the commencement of door-to-door verification of voters in Karachi has been averted.
Under a security umbrella provided by the Army, the exercise will start as per plan on Thursday (Jan 10).
Informed sources told Dawn that the National Database Registration Authority had completed reprinting of electoral rolls well ahead of the revised timeline, but it was unable to transport the material to Karachi as the courier was not allowed to land its cargo plane owing to dense fog in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
It was in this background that Nadra chairman Tariq Malik contacted Defence Secretary Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik on Tuesday to seek his intervention to airlift the reprinted electoral rolls. The response was swift.
He made it possible within hours. The Nadra chief had also proposed to the ECP to explore some alternative options like getting the rolls airlifted or transported by road under proper security cover.
Nadra chairman Tariq Malik confirmed the completion of reprinting of electoral lists and said he was glad that the Authority had completed the task well before the deadline.
A source said the electoral lists contained 6.92 million voters of Karachi, including 59,111 entries of potential voters issued CNICs between September and December last year, who would be enrolled as voters after verification by the ECP.
A source said Karachi’s voter lists had been reprinted for re-verification purposes after addition of fields for capturing thumb prints of the voters to be verified by the verifying officer. In addition, signatures of verifying officials will also be recorded to ensure transparency of the process.
The ECP secretary said the reprinted electoral rolls for Karachi division had reached the city and a door-to-door verification would now start as per plan on Thursday.
NOTIFICATION: An official of the defence ministry told Dawn that the Army and all forces under its command would only be responsible for providing a secure environment to the Election Commission of Pakistan staff during the exercise.
He said under a notification issued by the ministry, the conduct of electoral rolls verification would be the sole responsibility of the ECP and army troops, Rangers, Frontier Constabulary and police would be deployed in Karachi on Wednesday till completion of the verification process by the ECP in five districts of Karachi.
The ministry of defence has asked the ministry of interior to initiate a formal request to it to requisition the required personnel of the Pakistan Army along with requisite vehicles and equipment in aid of civil power.
The re-verification of voters in Karachi was ordered by the Supreme Court after complaints that over three million eligible voters living in Karachi for years had been enrolled at their permanent addresses elsewhere without their consent.