Security personnel asked to stay outside polling stations in Karachi

Published April 27, 2021
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday warned security officials deployed outside polling stations during the upcoming by-poll in Karachi against assuming the duty of polling staff. — AFP/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday warned security officials deployed outside polling stations during the upcoming by-poll in Karachi against assuming the duty of polling staff. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday warned security officials deployed outside polling stations during the upcoming by-poll in Karachi against assuming the duty of polling staff.

In a code of conduct prepared for security personnel in relation to the by-election in the National Assembly constituency of NA-249, Karachi-II, slated for April 29, the ECP said that security personnel shall not take into their custody any election material, including ballot papers, markings and stamps, and official code mark stamps.

It said that the security personnel from both police and Sindh Rangers would be deployed outside all polling stations and they would perform their duties in accordance with law and within the confines of mandate assigned to Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) or as the case may be, the civil armed forces to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in conduct of free, fair and transparent elections.

NA-249 by-poll is set to be held on April 29

They shall perform their functions under Article 220 of the Constitution of Pakistan and Section 5 read with Section 193 of the Elections Act, 2017. They will follow instructions given to them by the presiding officer concerned.

They will report to the presiding officer any irregularity or malpractice they observe outside the polling station(s) and act in accordance with the instructions given to them by him. In case the presiding officer concerned does not act to prevent the commission of any reported irregularity or malpractice, the security staff will then immediately report the matter to the designated officer in charge of the civil armed forces on duty, who shall take action in the light of powers delegated to him and shall also immediately inform the returning officer about this.

The ECP also made it clear in the code of conduct that the security personnel, including the police, deputed for the election duty, shall not ask a voter to produce his chit/parchee or his or her identity, as this is the duty of polling officer.

Moreover, they will not disallow any voter to enter a polling station, as entering a polling station to cast his or her vote is an individual right of the voter who has been assigned to that polling station. The security personnel shall not act in such manner, which may create an impression of their being partial or biased.

They have been asked to acquaint themselves with the fact that one polling agent of each contesting candidate is allowed to perform his/her duty at each polling booth. However, only one polling agent of each candidate will be allowed by the Presiding Officer to observe counting process and tabulation of results.

According to the code of conduct, each candidate who observes the counting process is by law allowed to take copy of Form 45 (Result of the Count) and Form 48 (Ballot Paper Account) from Providing Officer. Similarly, observer, if any who is present at the time of counting may also receive the aforesaid copies of the forms from the Presiding Officer.

The security personnel have been told to abide by all the relevant laws and continuously work to gain general public’s trust by ensuring safe environment and maintaining law and order during election process.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021

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