ISLAMABAD: The returning officers face an uphill task of scrutinising thousands of nomination papers on Sunday — the last date for the process — and observers fear that many forms might be cleared in haste without examining questions of tax evasion, loan default, clearing of utility bills and other government dues.
An official of the Election Commission (ECP) told Dawn that it had completed the process of receiving nomination papers from 425 ROs across the country for preliminary verification. He said 24,094 nomination papers had been received from the ROs so far, of which 20,743 had been sent back along with reports of the State Bank of Pakistan, Federal Board of Revenue and National Accountability Bureau.
The official said more than 5,000 forms had been received from the ROs during the past two days. Over 3,000 of them were passing through the process of preliminary verification and most of them were expected to be sent back to the ROs after verification on Sunday.
“This is a problem created by the returning officers for themselves,” an ECP official said.
He said since the deadline for submission of nomination papers was March 31, all the forms should have been sent to the central cell established at the ECP headquarters within 48 hours.
Of the record number of 24,094 nomination papers, 7,364 were for National Assembly and 16,730 for provincial assemblies’ seats. The maximum nominations (3,524) for National Assembly were filed in Punjab, followed by 1,727 in Sindh, 1,374 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 430 in Balochistan and 147 in Islamabad. Another 162 nomination papers were filed for seats reserved for minorities.
In all, 8,370 nomination papers have been filed for Punjab Assembly, 4,389 for Sindh Assembly, 2,522 for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and 1,449 for Balochistan Assembly.
INTERIOR MINISTER: Caretaker Interior Minister Malik Mohammad Habib Khan chaired a meeting held to review the election security arrangements. The meeting was attended by the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO), Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem, provincial chief secretaries and inspectors general of police, ECP Additional Secretary Mohammad Afzal Khan and officials of the law-enforcing agencies.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Malik Habib said security would be provided across the board, irrespective of political affiliation. High profile leaders will be provided security in accordance with the level of threat.
He said he would visit all the provinces to chalk out a comprehensive security plan after discussing their requirements with the chief ministers and officials of law enforcement agencies.
The minister said nobody would be allowed to carry weapons at polling stations.