RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government may use smart phones to monitor activities around polling stations on July 25 where CCTV cameras are not available.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has planned to install surveillance cameras at some 20,000 polling stations. Three cameras will be installed at each polling station- two in the area where polling staff issue and verify ballot papers and one at the entrance of polling booths.
According to sources, the idea of using smart phones for recording activities in and around polling station was discussed in a top level meeting on law and order in which security arrangements, deployment of security forces, existing threat perception, security of important leaders and installation of CCTV cameras was discussed.
The meeting held recently was headed by Punjab chief minister and was attended by additional chief secretary, Punjab inspector general of police, intelligence officials and other senior government officials.
The chief minister directed the home minister to ensure all polling stations are fully covered and all cameras are functional and working properly.
ECP has planned to install cameras at 20,000 polling stations, three at each station to monitor activities
It was directed that a central monitoring mechanism be devised by establishing control rooms at appropriate levels. Timely alternate arrangements are also to be made for recording activities in and around polling stations in case CCTV cameras are not available.
The meeting was informed that the existing threat level was real and taken seriously and that all possible steps be taken to marginalise the possibility of any security breach.
It was proposed that bullet proof vehicles be provided to the caretaker ministers and their security may be strengthened.
It was decided that safe and secure transportation of election material and results from the polling stations to the quarters concerned be done under the control and supervision of the army.
Areas which have difficult access to polling stations should be identified and necessary arrangements be ensured as per requirements. Sensitive polling stations should be managed properly manned and fully guarded.
Deputy commissioners have been designated as monitoring officers in their respective areas and they are to ensure proper monitoring mechanism for smooth conduct of elections. Equal treatment to all political parties will be ensured.
It was directed that security of political leaders under threat should be ensured as per recommendation of DICs and SOP security instruction issued for political gathering be fully implemented. An exclusive meeting be arranged with the leadership of political parties to sensitize them over the security arrangements and cooperation which is needed from either side in order to avoid any untoward situation.
The chief minister also directed to make clear demarcation of the duties of the army, Rangers, police and intelligence agencies for effective performance of duties within the mandate of each of the department or agency.
The police was directed to conduct extensive monitoring of fourth schedulers and strict monitoring of anti-social elements and radicalized elements.
Religious and separatists groups be kept under constant monitoring by agencies and Special Branch should carry out a detailed survey to verify the residents of all areas particularly sensitive areas for identification of outlaws.
It was also pointed out that hostile foreign elements can exploit elections campaigns to disrupt peace.
The election commission will share a schedule of International Observers with the IGP and a security plan and an advisory will be issued as well.
An exclusive meeting with provincial election commissions be arranged shortly in order to share the ongoing efforts for the smooth conduct of elections as well as to seek clarification on outstanding issues.
The election commission will be requested to deploy polling staff of good repute and may not make any changes in the deployment of staff at the eleventh hour.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2018