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‘Army not to escort ECP officials door to door’

January 11, 2013

Election Commission workers verifying the voters’ list during the door-to-door campaign of EC. — Photo by Online

KARACHI: The verification process of electoral rolls in Karachi began under the ‘security command’ of the Pakistan army, which said on Thursday that more than 5,000 troops deployed for the purpose would provide ‘safe and conducive environment’ to the election commission staff and would not escort them from door to door.

The election commission of Sindh said the process was ‘initiated successfully’ in all the five city districts – east, west, south, central and Malir – where its staff faced no security issue and started the job with ‘numbering’ of houses.

“Today our teams moved in all the districts and started numbering the houses, which would allow us to pursue the rest of the process,” Sindh election commissioner Mehboob Anwar told Dawn.

“The verification staff writes down the family number of his allocated enumerating blocks and fills in the form by writing the name and CNIC number of the head of the family for each house.”

He said the first day went off smoothly with the cooperation of the families approached and area communities. He said he saw no security issue in any part of the city, but described all Karachi districts sensitive and said arrangements by the government were enough to complete the job within the stipulated time.

For eliminating the possibility of any anomaly in the verified voter lists, Karachi has been divided into 13,622 enumerating blocks having 6,926,301 voters in the updated lists. Besides one registration officer in each district, in Karachi East there were 43 assistant registration officers, 708 supervisors and 2,793 verification staffers.

In District West, where the total voters were 1,427,740, including 565,685 women, 43 assistant registration officers (AROs), 648 supervisors and 2,460 verification supervisors (VS) had been assigned the job. In District South with 1,078,335 voters, including 469,626 women, there were 42 AROs, 615 supervisors and 1,873 VS.

In District Central for the 1,630,585 voters, including 722,674 women, there were 42 AROs, 845 supervisors and 2,769 VS. In District Malir with a total of 735,998 voters, including 304,435 females, there were 27 AROs, 400 supervisors and 1,405 VS, he said.

When asked about the absence of army troops in the city where police and Rangers personnel were seen moving with verification staff, the Sindh election commissioner called it a ‘strategy’ and said officials of the armed forces were at ‘command and control’.

“Whichever security agency is involved with our staff, it’s under the command and control of the Pakistan army. Army personnel are present where they are needed. The security plan reflects their strategy, but at the same time they were seen in almost every district,” said Mr Anwar.

His remarks echoed in the details shared by the Inter Services Public Relations that also ‘clarified’ the security arrangements assigned to the army under a notification issued by the defence ministry in response to a request of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

“Almost a division of the Pakistan army, which consists of troops between 4,000 and 7,000, has been earmarked for that particular job,” said an official of the ISPR in response to Dawn queries. “It’s needed to get clarified that under the notification issued by the ministry of defence the army would only provide safe and conducive environment to the election commission staff and will not escort them in their door-to-door visits.”

He said the army, however, in line with requirements of the election commission would meet all security requirements in coordination with other security agencies, including the Sindh Rangers and the Karachi police.