Pakistan News

LG candidates turn to Punjab, Afghanistan for printing publicity

LG candidates turn to Punjab, Afghanistan for printing publicity

PESHAWAR: Printing presses in Punjab province and the neighbouring Afghanistan take away almost half of the business generated by the upcoming local government elections to print publicity material for the poll candidates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Owing to unprecedented rush of the contestants and lack of capacity of printing machines available in the province, the candidates have turned to cities in Punjab and across the border in Afghanistan to get the publicity material printed as the elections are drawing nearer.

“The owners of printing presses in Urdu Bazaar, erstwhile Mohallah Jangi which is a hub of printing units, have displayed public notices outside their business places that they are overloaded and can’t take further orders of printing posters, stickers and other material,” said Abdul Samad, who runs a printing unit in the area.

The printing units’ owners never expected that such a large number of people would contest elections, said Mr Samad, who is also an office-bearer of the Frontier Printers and Publishers Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “I have not seen such a huge rush of candidates coming to Mohallah Jangi in my 25-year career in the field of printing,” he said.

According to data of the Local Government and Rural Development Department, around 45,000 people will be elected in the upcoming elections scheduled to be held on May 30. Of them, 41,513 will be elected in the village and neighbourhood councils, which is the lowest tier in the upcoming three-tier local government system.

Similarly, the preliminary report of the Election Commission of Pakistan shows that around 95,000 candidates are contesting the elections.

The printing of posters, stickers, panaflexes, etc have started from May 1, he said. Mr Samad said that initially the owners of printing presses were happily taking orders from the candidates, but now as elections were hardly 14 days away they had stopped taking orders because of workload.

Most of the candidates in the province rely on the printing units in Mohallah Jangi because the entire machinery needed for printing is not available in other cities of the province, said owner of a printing unit, Aslam Khan.

He said that candidates and their supporters could be seen requesting the owners of printing units for preparation of their publicity materials, but they were helpless to do so.

Mr Aslam said that the other option for the candidates, and even for owners of some printing presses, was Afghanistan and big cities of Punjab, including Rawlpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala.

“Now, we have been sending designed posters and stickers of the candidates through email to the printers in Afghanistan and Punjab, which we receive the next day or sometimes in two days,” he said, adding that machines used in Punjab were modern and had huge printing capacity. The important machinery for printing is the computer-to-plate (CTP) which prepares plate, but there are only three CTP units in Peshawar, he said.

The printer said that the price of a CTP machine was around Rs15 million, and the owners of printing units here in Peshawar couldn’t afford to buy such costly machines. “We would have purchased the CTP machines if the price was up to Rs2 million,” he said.

Other local printers said that the owners of printing presses in Punjab were charging more than double from the candidates as they knew their compulsions. “We prepare 1,000 stickers of 10x15 size at Rs6,000 in Peshawar, but in Punjab the printers charge Rs18, 000 for the same,” Mr Aslam said.

Similarly, price of 1,000 number of normal size poster was Rs8,000 in Peshawar, but in Punjab the price has jumped to Rs12, 000, he said. Currently, over 400 printing machines had been functional in Peshawar, mostly in Mohallah Jangi, he said. Despite 24 hours work, the printing units have been facing hardships to meet the target in a given time, as around 1,500 machines would be needed to handle such a huge workload, he said.

Also, some owners of bookstores, who in routine only sell books, have also started taking orders from candidates. They are also turning to Punjab to get the election material printed.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2015

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