KARACHI, May 15: The provincial caretaker government spent over Rs140 million on security arrangements during the May 11 elections, it emerged on Wednesday.
Sources in the Sindh finance department told Dawn about the expenditure, which the department released to the relevant authorities before and during the elections.
They, coupled with officials in the home department, claimed to have made meticulous arrangements during elections, yet many political parties and individuals have questioned the security arrangements made on polling day and alleged pervasive vote rigging.
Sources said the finance department released Rs20 million to the officials responsible for planning and enforcing security measures across the province in the head of ‘unforeseen expenditures’.
Besides, they released Rs96.706 million to the police, which includes Rs11.406 million for petroleum, oil and lubricants. Some Rs13.2 million was spent on hiring vehicles used for transportation of election materials, logistics, etc.
The provincial government spent Rs18.417 million on arranging additional force besides police, which includes volunteers and private security guards, and Rs16.983 million for the provision of food for them.
The provincial police got Rs15 million for the purchase of equipment, including walk-through gates, metal detectors etc, and spent Rs20 million on repairs of police vehicles. Besides, Rs1.7 million was spent on machinery repairs.
The sources said some Rs23.578 million had been released to the provincial authorities for the Rangers.
The break-up is: Rs9.908 million as POL charges; POL for a helicopter Rs1 million; hiring of vehicles etc charges Rs4.5 million and ‘feeding’ charges, Rs2.645 million.
The figures show the provincial finance department released a total of Rs140.284 million for security arrangements in Sindh.
Official sources in the ministry of finance, Islamabad, said the ministry released some Rs500 million to the ministry of interior, which was spent on the armed forces and paramilitary forces, Pakistan Rangers in Sindh and Punjab and Frontier Corps in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Apart from the government, huge amounts of money were spent by individuals and political parties before and during the elections.
Officials of the All Pakistan Security Agencies Association said they could not quantify the figures about the guards hired by political parties and individuals. However, interviews with owners of some security agencies show that they were in hundreds in Sindh.
Security agencies charge from Rs20,000 to Rs35,000 a month for a trained bodyguard or commando. There are 500 security agencies in Pakistan, which employ around 100,000 guards.
Political parties themselves spend huge money on their armed workers who guard party offices, candidates and public meetings.
Besides, parties, especially the PPP, which could not hold their election meetings because of terror attacks, spent more money on their publicity campaigns on the electronic and print media, which has also been reckoned as security expenditure.
“We should include the money being spent on the rigorous media campaign by parties which could not hold election rallies because of terrorism threat and use these means to reach their constituents,” said defence analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi.