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No compromise on credibility of election staff: ECP secretary

Updated May 19, 2017 06:58am
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob says at a press conference the ECP will train 586,000 officials.—Online
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob says at a press conference the ECP will train 586,000 officials.—Online

ISLAMABAD: The Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will be using electronic voting machines and a biometric verification system in an upcoming by-election in Karachi as a test run to see whether they could be used in the general elections next year, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob told journalists at a press conference on Thursday.

He said the ECP would train 586,000 officials in 23,440 training sessions this year, and stressed that there would be no compromise on ensuring the credibility and competence of the election staff.

The press conference was held towards the end of ECP’s 11th Planning Com­mittee meeting, in which the participants reviewed the result management system and discussed preparations for the general elections.

Mr Yaqoob said the meeting’s agenda had also included the ECP’s recommendation for the budgetary allocation for 2017-2018, keeping in view the necessary preparations, procurement requirements of ballot boxes and other election material, new offices for district election commissioners, poll monitoring, and so on. He said the participants had approved a comprehensive training programme for presiding officers, assistant presiding officers, polling officers and other staff.

He said the training of ECP officers was being taken seriously, while the master trainers, who are expected to train the election staff, had completed their training.

The ECP has been looking to get its own storage facility, he said. The commission, so far, has building premises in 19 districts and is expecting to get 10 additional buildings soon. He said during a visit of the chief election commissioner to Khyber Pakhtun­khwa and the Punjab he was advised to get returning officers and district returning officers from within the judiciary.

The ECP secretary told reporters that they had geo-tagged 70,000 polling stations on Goggle maps in order to facilitate voters. The commission has also reques­ted provincial governments to take notice of certain polling stations that lack basic facilities for voters, and asked them to upgrade those.

He said Electoral Refo­rms Committee has been working on new law, which, after approval from the ECP, would be able to implement its plans. In order to ensure accuracy in sharing election results on the med­ia, the ECP has been working on developing a code of conduct, which would be finalised in consultation with journalists and relevant bodies, including the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017