The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday, expressing concern over reports of harassment and threats to election candidates in Multan and Narowal, requested the Punjab government to take "immediate corrective measures".

ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob reminded Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Prof Hassan Askari of a meeting on preparations for the elections in which, during a presentation to the caretaker prime minister and all four CMs, "the participants were specifically made aware of the threat to political leaders and contesting candidates" by the ECP secretary.

"It appears, unfortunately, that concerned authorities have yet to take the bull by the horns," Yaqoob said.

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"There have been media reports that candidates have been harassed and physically threatened at various places. Incidents like the ones at Narowal and Multan require immediate corrective measures," he said.

He cautioned that under the ECP's constitutional mandate of organising and conducting elections honestly, justly and fairly under Article 218(3) of the Constitution can only be achieved in a "conducive law and order environment".

"I have been therefore, directed in the spirit of Article 220 to enjoin, through you, the police and the administration not to rest on their oars till the task of a free and fair election is achieved," he added.

A copy of the letter was forwarded to the other three CMs and the caretaker PM.

The ECP's missive follows reports that a PML-N candidate in Multan set to contest on PP-219 alleged that he was tortured by the personnel of secret agency over his refusal to withdraw from the upcoming election.

"I was asked not to contest the election on the PML-N ticket," he claimed, adding that he was asked to come to the local office of the agency.

He claimed that a raid was conducted on his fertiliser godown after he was threatened. He alleged that he had been slapped several times during the raid on the godown.

Printing of ballot papers begins

The printing of ballot papers has begun at the country-wide printing presses of three printing companies, as per the amended ECP schedule, under army supervision. The army had already been deployed to printing facilities in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad by June 25.

Each ballot paper will cost around Rs10 to print. There are over 210 million ballot papers being printed, making it the most expensive ballot paper printing process in the country's history with a total estimated cost of over Rs2.1 billion.