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Commission to finalise poll arrangements by Dec 31

October 31, 2012

The office of Election commission of Pakistan.—File Photo
The office of Election Commission of Pakistan. — File photo

ISLAMABAD, Oct 30: The Election Commission plans to finalise by Dec 31 the arrangements for next general election and has directed the relevant institutions to complete the remaining work in this regard.

Talking to reporters here on Tuesday, ECP’s Additional Secretary Mohammad Afzal Khan said the commission had not been given any indication by the government about holding the elections in January or any other month.

“We as an election management must be prepared to hold polls at anytime and that is why the work is being sped up.”

He said the term of the existing assemblies would end in the middle of March next year and the commission should be ready to hold elections even before that, if asked.

Work on arrangements for the polls, he said, had been going on since 2009 to eliminate mistakes of the past and make proper arrangements for 90 million voters.

Mr Afzal said a meeting of the commission would be held in the second week of November to review electoral rolls and other election-related matters. The meeting to be attended by officials of the provincial and district election commissions will also discuss the limit for election expenses. Another meeting will be held in the last week of November to discuss the security arrangements. It will be presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim and attended by senior officials of the interior ministry and Frontier Constabulary and inspectors general and deputy inspectors general of the provinces.

Mr Afzal said the commission had decided to give three honoraria to the polling staff. Besides the financial benefit, returning officers would also get certificates.

He said the commission would take up on Wednesday a petition seeking elections for NA-42 (South Waziristan) constituency. It was filed by Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan and retired bureaucrat Dost Mohammad Khan in April.

The polling in the constituency comprising Mehsud-dominated areas could not be held since the 2008 general election because of the poor law and order situation and military operations there.

The petitioners have suggested that the polling should be held in adjoining areas where the people from the constituency were temporarily living.

The commission will also take up an application filed by the Pakistan Muslim League-N, requesting it not to allocate ‘cat’ as an election symbol to any party or candidate because of its resemblance to the party’s symbol of ‘tiger’.

In the application filed in April, PML-N secretary general Iqbal Zafar Jhagra complained that thousands of its supporters stamped impressions on ‘cat’ because of its resemblance to ‘tiger’ in the recent by-election in Vehari.

“The allocation of similar election symbols to competing candidates within a constituency defies the spirit of election laws and has a detrimental effect on the overall democratic process,” the petition said.

Wednesday’s meeting will also discuss registration of 14 new political parties.