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Election Commission of Pakistan.— File Photo

PESHAWAR: The Election Commission of Pakistan is considering deployment of armed forces in at least half of the polling stations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas over security concerns, said Provincial Election Commissioner Sono Khan Baloch on Wednesday.

Mr Baloch told Dawn here that a high-level meeting was held in the capital city two days ago to examine the security situation in the province and tribal areas, especially sensitive areas.

He said the meeting was attended by the provincial home secretary, the provincial police officer (PPO),the additional chief secretary Fata and others. He added that for the time being, ECP had been planning to depute personnel of armed forces in at least half of the polling stations.

The PEC said last time, elections could not be held in NA-42, South Waziristan, for security reasons but this time, he was hopeful that polls would be held there.

He said tentatively, they had decided to set up 10931 polling stations in the province and Fata. He added that 1,080 of these stations would be in Fata.

Mr Baloch said the tentative lists had been sent to the concerned returning officers and after few days they would made it public following which there would be 15 days time for the candidates and voters to file any objection regarding it.

He said the returning officer would look into the objections and if those were found genuine, they would make changes in the scheme of polling stations.

The PEC said apart from factor of militancy they had also been looking into general law and order and political situation of different areas and would also compile lists of sensitive polling stations keeping in view those facts.

Mr Baloch, who is also returning officer for seats reserved for women in the National Assembly and provincial assembly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and seats reserved for minorities in the provincial assembly, said political parties would submit priority lists of their candidates in the said three categories until March 29 and it would be made public on March 30.

The PEC said ECP had been receiving nomination papers from women as well as minorities candidates but if their names were not found in the priority lists of political parties, their nomination papers would be straightaway rejected without scrutiny. He added that scrutiny of nomination papers would take place from March 30 until April 5.

Mr Baloch said the political parties could include eight names in the priority list for National assembly, 22 names in the list for provincial assembly and three names for seats reserved for minorities.

He added that the said seats would be filled on basis of proportional representation in accordance with the number of seats won by a particular political party.

The PEC said it was the ECP’s endeavour to conduct free and fair elections and that a thorough scrutiny of all nomination papers would take place.