LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought assistance of the armed forces to conduct by-polls in different constituencies of national and provincial assemblies in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as for both phases of local government polls in Sindh.

In a letter to Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said that in view of the charged political atmosphere and extreme polarisation in the country deployment outside the polling stations during the by-polls for four Punjab Assembly constituencies of Lahore (PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170), one KP assembly seat (PK-7), and one National Assembly constituency in Sindh (NA-245) might be provided to avoid violence as was witnessed in the recent Karachi by-poll (NA-240) and a clash between two political parties in Lahore (PP-167).

Referring to the support the armed forces had rendered during the general election and local elections in KP and Balochistan, Mr Raja hoped for a similar help in conducting the by-polls and two phases of local government elections in Sindh.

Polling for 20 Punjab Assembly seats is to be held on July 17, for PK-7 on June 26, for NA-245 on July 27 and for two phases of Sindh local polls on June 26 and July 24.

The CEC also wrote to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, hoping that strict action would be taken against the culprits involved in the violence during by-election for NA-240 irrespective of their party affiliations and expected that the provincial government would beef up the level of administrative and security arrangements for the forthcoming NA-245 by-polls and the local government polls in the province.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the senior officers of the ECP held with Mr Raja in the chair was briefed about the progress made on the clash between PML-N and PTI workers in the PP-167 election campaign that led to wounds to many people the other day.

It decided to summon PML-N nominee Nazir Chohan and PTI’s Shabbir Gujjar and also Lahore capital city police officer on June 23 to know the progress in the case. The relevant district returning officer and monitoring officer were also summoned to brief the ECP on the issue.

The ECP had summoned for June 22 Pak Sarzameen Party’s Mustafa Kamal over the violation of code of conduct on the polling day for NA-240 by-polls and the SSP Korangi (Karachi), district monitoring officer and returning officer to know about the progress made regarding violence on the polling day.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022

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