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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has rejected the latest request by the Sindh government to postpone the local body elections in the province, stating that the vote will definitely take place tomorrow (Sunday), 24NewsHD TV channel reported.
The decision was taken in an emergency meeting of the ECP which was held in Islamabad on Saturday afternoon. Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja chaired the meeting virtually from Lahore.
An official leaflet signed by the ECP spokesperson stated the ECP’s decision in directing the Sindh government to ensure “foolish preparations for peaceful elections”.
The second phase of Sindh Local Government Elections will be held on 15 January 2023. pic.twitter.com/bhAJsRrK7s
— ECP Spokesperson (@SpokespersonECP) January 14, 2023
Earlier, the ECP called the meeting after intelligence agencies sensitized the election commission about the terror threat during the polls in the state. In light of new information, the ECP has called a meeting today (Saturday) under the chairmanship of Chief Electoral Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in Islamabad.
The Sindh government has also written a letter to the election commission asking it to postpone the local government elections keeping the security threats in mind. He asked the commission to postpone the polls until he arranged security at the polling stations.
The government said there was an urgent need to deploy army troops and civilian armed forces at polling stations.
An important meeting was held under the chairmanship of Sindh Chief Secretary Sohail Rajpoot where a briefing was given on the security arrangements during the LG polls in the province.
The meeting was attended by Election Commission Secretary Umar Hameed, IG police and other government officials.
During the meeting, the police authorities told the participants that they were ready to use policemen at polling stations but that there was a risk to security. They have threats from banned organizations including BLA and TTP. They said 63,000 police officers were required to provide security in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions. “If these police officers were deployed there, then cities could face a law and order situation,” they said.
Sindh Police IG Ghulam Nabi Memon said that even one polling station could not be declared normal in the province and ‘that is why we are facing shortage of police officers to be deployed in polling stations’.
He said that only in Karachi, 1,340 polling stations have been declared as ‘most sensitive’ while 3,655 have been confirmed as ‘sensitive’.
In Hyderabad, 1,005 polling stations have been declared as ‘most sensitive’ and 2,874 have been confirmed as ‘sensitive’.
Combined, the number of most sensitive polling stations in Karachi and Hyderabad is 2,345 and the number of ‘sensitive’ polling stations is 6,532.
Also Read: Voting for LG polls in Karachi, Hyderabad will be held tomorrow
The IG police said that as per the SOPs defined by the ECP, eight security officers would be deployed at the most sensitive polling station while 4 will be deployed at a sensitive polling station. “Using this criterion, we have to deploy 25,340 security officers in Karachi and 19,536 in Hyderabad. The total deployment will be 44,876,” the IGP added.
He said apart from this fixed deployment, thousands of other security personnel would be needed for patrolling and other duties during the elections.
Also Read: Ministry orders SC troops to guard polling stations in Sindh LG poll
He said that the total strength of Sindh police officers is 119,000 and it is not possible to spare 70,000 of them for poll duties. He said the electoral commission needed these officers for at least 3-4 days.
He said that in the last 1.5 months, the sensitive agencies have issued 17 security alerts for Karachi and other areas of the province.
Correspondents Samar Abbas, Iqtidar Anwar and Azad Nehrio