ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was informed on Tuesday that terrorism during the upcoming elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and by-polls for the National Assembly cannot be ruled out.

During a briefing to review security arrangements in light of polls, KP Inspector General Police Moazzam Jah Ansari said at least 150,000 personnel were needed to provide security. However, there was a shortage of 57,000 personnel, he added.

The meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja was attended by ECP members, the commission’s secretary, the KP chief secretary, and others.

IG Ansari said the shortage cannot be met even after acquiring the services of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan police. The police chief also feared that even if the requisite strength was achieved, the police could not promise peaceful elections.

The terrorists constantly targeted the police, he said, adding that at least 494 attacks had been carried out against the police in KP in 2022, while during the current year, 46 attacks have been launched so far.

In 2022, 119 police were martyred while 93 have been martyred during this year, the IGP said, adding that services of the army and Frontier Corps will be needed to make up for the shortage of police personnel.

The ECP chief shared that the commission was in contact with the defence and interior ministries regarding the deployment of military and paramilitary personnel for the elections. He asked the IGP to inform the ECP at the earliest so that the military’s help could be sought in time.

The CEC called for the appointment of impartial officers during the electoral exercise to ensure fair polls and asked the KP chief secretary and the IG to inform the commission in case of any complaints. The CS assured that in line with the ECP’s instructions, the appointment of impartial officers will be ensured in all districts.

Meanwhile, the ECP adjourned the hearing of Jamaat-e-Islami’s complaint regarding the alleged manipulation of results during the recently-held local government elections in Karachi till February 22.

A four-member bench headed by Member Sindh Nisar Durrani asked the JI to submit the original Form 11 to the commission. It added that the objections raised by the JI were “premature” and the situation would be cleared only after the compilation of results.

PPP leader Saeed Ghani who appeared before the commission proposed re-polling on the controversial polling stations. The commission also heard petitions filed by PTI Sindh President Ali Zaidi. The PTI counsel alleged that most of the returning officers brought from interior Sindh carried out ‘worst’ rigging to defeat PTI.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2023

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