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ISLAMABAD, April 12: As many as 41 polling stations in Islamabad have been declared sensitive because of the prevailing security concerns and frictions among the contesting political parties.

According to a senior official in the Ministry of Interior, there are 550 polling stations in Islamabad’s NA-48 and NA-49.

“We have 262 polling stations in the urban Islamabad within the jurisdiction of the Capital Development Authority and 288 in the rural area that comes under the limits of the capital territory administration,” the official told Dawn refusing to share his name.

He said 38 of the polling stations in NA-49 had been placed in the A category (highly sensitive). “Only three polling stations in NA-48 are of a critical nature while the rest are in the C (normal) category.”

An official of the police special branch said the polling stations declared sensitive by the Ministry of Interior in NA-49 were located close to Rawat, Sohan, Sihala and Koral.”

“We had seen scuffles and fights during the 2008 elections in these polling stations,” said the official.

“The polling stations in NA-48 are the ones located in Golra and close to Fatehjhang,” he added.

The special branch official said NA-49 had a lot of rivals mainly because of tough competition between the PPP and the PML-N.

In Golra, three polling stations may see more trouble specifically because of political turf between the PPP and the PML-N.

Security plan

The Ministry of Interior official added that over 9,500 police personnel would be deployed in the capital on May 11.

“We have made arrangements for the elections and 9,500 police officers will perform duty at the 550 polling stations,” said the official.

The Rangers would be on a standby and can be called in anytime if there was a need.

Another official said Rangers would remain on duty close on the elections day “and will also act as Quick Response Force to avert any untoward situation in any part of the city.”

“The army will be on a standby for the capital city and it can only be called with the approval of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),” the official said.

Another official in the federal security establishment said Islamabad would also have air surveillance on May 11. “We will also depute plainclothesmen at sensitive polling stations,” he maintained.

An ICT administration official said Islamabad had one district returning officer (district and sessions judge) and two returning officers (civil judges) who will be running the administrative affairs at the polling stations.

“Officers of the federal security establishment, Ministry of Interior, Islamabad police and the Election Commission of Pakistan have held meetings and finalised all the modalities,” said the official.

Despite repeated attempts, no official of the ECP and the ICT administration was available to comment on the development.

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