ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was informed on Tuesday that Section 144 imposed in parts of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) had been lifted.
During a meeting of the ECP on the upcoming Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly elections in tribal districts, Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza said complaints had been received from tribal districts about imposition of Section 144, hindering election campaigns of the candidates for the elections scheduled for July 20.
At this, a representative of the KP government said that Section 144 had been lifted on the directives of the ECP.
The meeting was attended, among others, by the KP’s additional chief secretary, home secretary, provincial election commissioner, representatives of security agencies and all district returning officers.
Last-ditch effort to evolve consensus on ECP members’ appointment fails
The meeting was informed that the ECP had completed all arrangements for the upcoming provincial assembly elections. It was told that army personnel would be deployed in and outside sensitive polling stations and outside all other stations.
The CEC directed that no development funds be released till the completion of the electoral exercise. He asked the district returning officers to strictly enforce the code of conduct for political parties and candidates and discharge their duties with impartiality.
The KP government assured that besides the sensitive polling stations, all efforts were being made to install security cameras at the maximum number of polling stations.
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad told the meeting the commission was making all-out efforts to ensure that maximum number of electorates exercise their right to franchise.
He said efforts were being made to make it sure that women voters cast their votes in an independent environment. He said that with a view to making the security for women voters more efficient, female security staff would be deployed at women and combined polling stations.
Meanwhile, a last-ditch effort to evolve a consensus on the vacant positions of members of the ECP from Sindh and Balochistan failed with a voting ending on tie — 6-6. The voting took place during a meeting of the parliamentary committee on appointment of ECP members. The 12-member panel has equal representation from the government and the opposition.
Talking to reporters after what could be the last meeting of the parliamentary committee, Human Rights Minister Dr Shirin Mazari said a consensus could not be reached with the opposition and now minutes of the meetings would be conveyed to the prime minister and the law ministry would give its opinion on how to move about.
The Constitution is silent on the way forward in case of such a stalemate in a parliamentary committee.
The ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan — Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch — retired in January and under the law new members were to be appointed within 45 days.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2019