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Second phase of LG polls: Sanghar, Hafizabad potential trouble spots: ECP

Second phase of LG polls: Sanghar, Hafizabad potential trouble spots: ECP

ISLAMABAD: Sanghar in Sindh and Hafizabad in Punjab have been identified as potential trouble spots ahead of the second phase of local government (LG) elections in the two provinces, scheduled to be held on Nov 19.

A meeting of the Election Com­mission of Pakistan (ECP), chaired by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, was informed by provincial election commissioners that “extraordinary troop deployment” would be needed in the two districts in view of the tensions prevailing there.

Take a look: LG elections: polling ends in Sindh and Punjab, clashes reported

Sources told Dawn that eight of the 11 people killed in electoral violence in Khairpur during the first phase of LG polls were from Sanghar district. In Punjab, Hafizabad is experiencing heightened tensions because of the ransacking of a returning officer’s office and manhandling of the RO allegedly by people linked to the PTI.

A participant of Wednesday’s meeting told Dawn that provincial election commissioners would keep filing reports on the security situation to ensure the effective deployment of army and Rangers personnel.

The commission reviewed the shortcomings and difficulties faced in the first phase of LG polls in Punjab and Sindh and discussed ways of overcoming hurdles and plugging loopholes on the basis of lessons learnt during the first phase.

Returning officers were found to be responsible for the ballot paper fiasco in dozens of constituencies during the first phase. Provincial election commissioners and senior officers of the commission were of the view that the ROs were solely responsible for the printing of incorrect symbols and candidates’ names on ballot papers in a number of constituencies.

The meeting noted that most of the ROs drawn from various government departments were ignorant of electoral laws, their responsibilities and authority. Many of the bold and more informed ROs resisted violations of the code of conduct, but the weaker ones could not ensure the code’s implementation, the meeting was told.

Another problem that hampered the smooth conduct of polling during the first phase was considered to be the intervention of high courts in matters including delimitation, symbols and polling stations, which had to be changed at the eleventh hour on their orders.

The meeting was also informed that the printing of ballot papers for the next phase was 30 per cent complete and that the printing and transportation of ballot papers and election material would be timely completed. The meeting also decided that efficient ROs appointed for the first phase would also be assigned duties in the second phase.

Code violations

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali – who was charged with violating the code of conduct by making a speech after the end of campaign time during the first phase of LG elections in Faisalabad – appeared before the commission on Wednesday and his counsel was directed to file a written reply by Nov 10.

The ECP dropped a case relating to code of conduct violation against federal Minister for Housing Akram Khan Durrani after he submitted an unconditional apology.

The former KP chief minister was accused of using state machinery for boosting the campaign of his favourite candidates in his hometown of Bannu. The complaint against him was filed by former MNA Humayun Saifullah Khan.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2015

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