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LAHORE, May 8: Arrangements have been made to provide administrative support to Election Commission for holding a free, fair and peaceful election in the province, enabling it to monitor the polls in detail through the Punjab election cell that is electronically linked to the provincial administration and poll staff.

Punjab Additional Chief Secretary Iftikhar Rao said this at a news briefing at the central election cell established in the Civil Secretariat here on Wednesday.

Punjab Information Technology Board Chairman Dr Umar Saif and Urban Unit CEO Dr Nasir Javaid also briefed newsmen on how the cell would monitor the election process directly with the help of electronic gadgets and android phones provided to the administration and the election staff throughout the province.

Rao Iftikhar said the monitoring was aimed at providing administrative support to the ECP and it had nothing to do with election projections.

He said the cell was directly gathering information regarding security and administration, particularly incidence of violence and violation of the code of conduct and was conveying it to the ECP.

The Punjab government and police were also taking action against those resorting to violence, he said.

He said a number of government officials had been changed after receiving complaints through the cell’s system about their lack
of neutrality. All complaints were verified and the guilty officials were proceeded against, he added.

He said a modern tracking system had been installed in vehicles of election staff in Faisalabad and Rawalpindi to keep a real time record of their movement before, during and after the polling. Such system was also being provided in the rest of the districts.

Rao said the law-enforcement personnel would not be deployed inside the poling stations. Army and Punjab police would reach any scene of disturbance within five to seven minutes of its happening, he said, adding no-one would be allowed to take mobile phone inside the polling stations.

He said the cell was getting election related information from all SHOs, TMOs and magistrates though android telephones, adding complaints could also be lodged on hotline 8070.

He said facilities like drinking water and toilets would be provided to voters at all poling stations. There would be alternate electricity arrangements to continue the election process in case of loadshedding, he added.

The ACS said all educational institutions would remain close from May 8 to 10 as majority of teachers were acting as polling staff and many of the school and college buildings were also being used as polling stations and to house army personnel.

He said all government offices would remain close on May 10 to allow public servants to cast their votes in their home towns.
But, there was no holiday for the staff of essential services departments and the institutions conducting A Level examination.
Dr Umar Saif said the network comprising modern poll monitoring gadgetry had been spread to all UCs of Punjab. He said the system would also help the Punjab government monitor floods relief activities, agriculture production and health sector in future.

Dr Nasir briefed the ACS on how the polling staff would interact with the cell, reporting every step from beginning of voting to any interruption or violence through mobile phone messages. This would help government provide relief in case of any emergency within no time.