ISLAMABAD: With only 16 days left in the general elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to conduct a mock test of its system to transmit and tabulate results.

The ECP has written to all four provincial election commissioners and issued SOPs and guidelines regarding the mock exercise for the Election Management System (EMS) on January 26.

The letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, stated that returning officers (RO) must certify and finalise Forms 28 and 33 in the EMS and map the presiding officers to polling stations till Jan 25.

The said forms carry details of candidates and the number of polling stations in each constituency.

The letter added that dummy Form-45 will be provided to all ROs on Jan 25, and they will ask the presiding officers to send results of 1-2 pages of each NA and PA constituency from their mobile app on Jan 26 at 5pm.

Orders local bodies not to announce development schemes until polls

For the purpose of the exercise, presiding officers can take snapshots of any page, considering it Form-45, which carries results from each polling station.

EMS operators will start data entry from 5pm on Jan 26, and upon completion, ROs will generate Form-47 — the final result.

According to the letter, after the mock exercise, ROs will ensure that all presiding officers have cleared cache data as per ECP’s guidelines.

All EMS operators have also been asked to facilitate presiding officers in clearing the cache on their smartphones.

The provincial election commissioners have been directed to circulate the SoPs with mock exercise guidelines to all ROs.

Guidelines have also been issued for clearing cache from the EMS Mobile App after the mock trial.

“Mock poll data/result may be cleared and your phone will be ready for actual result on poll day i.e. 8th Feb, 2024,” the letter added.

ECP freezes funds

Separately, ECP has frozen all development funds of local governments with “immediate effect” till the general election’s results are announced.

The commission issued the directives in a notification issued last week. The electoral watchdog said that it is responsible for ensuring that polls are conducted “honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law”.

It further said that it was imperative for the commission to take all necessary steps to prevent local government institutions and cantonment boards from taking any such action which amounted to “influencing” the results.

It was also necessary to provide a level playing field for all political parties and contesting candidates, the notification added.

In light of this, the ECP has directed all local government bodies in the provinces, including cantonments, to perform their day-to-day duties of sanitation and cleanliness, “which were necessary to run the affairs of local governments”.

The local bodies were ordered not to announce or execute any development scheme except those approved before the election schedule was announced on December 15.

The ECP local governments and cantonment boards were also instr­ucted not to issue tenders for any schemes till the culmination of the general elections and without prior approval from the commission.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2024

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