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Election Commission of Pakistan reviews arrangements for next general elections

Islamabad: In order to review the progress on various urgent and important issues/activities essentially required to be completed well before initiating the process for the conduct of upcoming Senate as well as General Elections in the country, a meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was held under the Chairmanship of Mr. Justice ® Hamid Ali Mirza, Honourable Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan and attended by the learned Members Election Commission (MECs), namely Justice ® Mohammad Roshan Essani, Justice ® Riaz Kayani, Justice ® Shahzad Akbar Khan and Justice ® Fazal-ur-Rehman. Mr. Ishtiaq Ahmad Khan, Secretary ECP, Joint Secretaries, Provincial Election Commissioners, NADRA and Census Population authorities also attended the meeting.

Mr. Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan told that it is the Constitutional obligation of the ECP to hold fair, transparent and credible elections to the satisfaction of the nation with a strategy to complete all these important urgent tasks in the given timeline so that printing of Final Electoral Rolls (FER) and completion of all these activities should by the end of May 2012.

He said that this meeting had been convened to prepare a framework containing all important and urgent tasks to be completed well in advance of the Senate and General Elections in the country and to be in a state of full preparedness to hold elections whenever the ECP is called upon to do so because ECP feels that completion of all these tasks is a pre-requisite and of utmost importance of credible elections. The following decisions were made in this regard:

1- All efforts are being made by NADRA to complete the exercise with regards to preparation of Preliminary Electoral Rolls (PER), followed by Final Electoral Rolls (FER), as soon as possible and a report in this regard has been sent today to the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan.

2- The SMS facility being provided by the ECP to the registered voters for checking their entries as voters in the relevant Electoral Rolls. He further said that as decided by the ECP in its meeting held on 30th November, 2011, SMS charges for public to check their voting details has been fixed as rupees two per SMS.

3- The Commission was informed that a proposal with regard to amend the law for providing name, CNIC number, photographs and to obtain thumb impression of voters in digitized ink only on the Electoral Rolls to be used by the Presiding Officers, is being sent to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.

4- As regards the printing of Electoral Rolls with photo and thumb impression, it was discussed that photograph of the voter and column for thumb impression of the voter, to be used at the time of election by the Presiding Officers only and the remaining required number of sets, without photograph and thumb impression of the voter will be discussed with all major political parties in a meeting, to be held soon.

5- It was decided that the Deputy Election Commissioners (DECs) shall work as Revising Authorities in their respective districts while for the remaining districts in their Division, lists for appointment of Revising Authorities from amongst the Federal Government, Provincial and District Government Officers have been obtained through the PECs, that is being scrutinized and the ECP will also arrange orientation for these Revising Authorities.

6- As the population census report is to be published by the PCO in second half of 2013, as informed by them and as no fresh delimitation is to be carried out for next general elections, therefore, the Commission decided that the PECs shall submit proposals for re-description of constituencies within ten days.

The proposals received from the PECs shall be placed before the Election Commission for its further consideration and decision. It will be purely an internal exercise and will be completed by end of February, 2012.

7- In the context of implementation of Supreme Court directions with regard to fresh delimitation in Karachi, the PEC, Sindh informed that meetings are in progress with respective Provincial Authorities.

8- It was decided that the draft Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates, Media, Observers, Law enforcing Agencies and Polling Agents, shall be placed before the stakeholders in a consultative meeting to be shortly.

9- With regard to controlling Election Expenses, a meeting with Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) will be held on 11th January 2012 in continuation with the previous meeting held a few months back to chalk out further course of action to streamline political financing.

10- Printing Corporation of Pakistan and Security Printing Corporation have been asked to arrange non-market paper containing special security features including watermark, to preclude the possibility of printing of bogus ballot paper by any quarter.

11- It was decided that efforts shall be made to establish permanent polling stations so that the voters could be assigned polling stations well before the elections. The lists of permanent polling stations shall be placed on ECP’s website for information of general public well in advance of an election.

12- It was decided that the PECs shall approach the Registrars of their respective High Courts and shall obtain the names of retired District and Sessions Judges for their appointment as Election Tribunals within two weeks and a proposal containing their TORs including salary package will be placed before the Commission.

Likewise, suitable buildings for establishment of their offices shall be identified by the PECs and a detailed proposal in this regard shall be submitted to the Election Commission for consideration and approval where after necessary furniture and equipments will also be purchased to make the Tribunals functional as soon as possible so that they could start disposing of election petitions within the period specified in the law.

13- To ensure peaceful conduct of poll, a District Election Security Committee, headed by concerned DROs, was approved comprising District Returning Officer, Returning Officer, District Coordination Officer (DCO) or their authorized representatives, District Police Officers (DPOs) or their authorized representatives and officials of Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, Rangers, Levies force, Khasa dar Force and Punjab Constabulary. This Committee will approve the security plan.

14- It was decided that a full-fledged campaign may be launched for voter education before and during the display period of PER so as to enable as many eligible voters to benefit from the display centers and check their votes.

15- About voting by Overseas Pakistani through postal ballot, the ECP decided to review existing process of postal ballot and propose specific modalities to be followed for the completion of all the processes/steps involved within a reasonable time limit so that no delay should be caused in announcement of elections by the Returning Officers as per election schedule. Legal amendments will also be proposed to enable the Overseas Pakistanis to cast their vote by postal ballot.

16- The symbols to be allotted to the Political Parties were revised a few months back and the matter has been sent to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, to obtain approval from the President of Pakistan.

17- It was also decided that a meeting of the Geographical Information System (GIS) Committee be convened to discuss further steps regarding establishing GIS Labs and initiating pilot project.

18- A working paper was approved to be prepared with regard to requisite legislation and holding of LG elections in the provinces and a meeting with concerned departments and stakeholders be arranged in this month, for holding L.G. Elections by the Election Commission.

19- Final specifications of EVM have also been approved by the Commission for manufacturing of a prototype EVM where after a pilot project will be launched.

20- The Commission was informed that training for holding Senate Election is scheduled on 24th January to 27th January 2012 for the ECP Officers (BPS-18 and above).

For more information, contact:
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)
Election Commission of Pakistan Secretariat
Election House, Constitution Avenue G-5/2, Islamabad
Tel: +9251 920 1975, +9251 920 6062
Fax: +9251 920 5402, +9251 920 5300

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