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PESHAWAR: Polling for 45 general seats of the National Assembly and 115 general seats of the Provincial Assembly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be held today (Thursday) for which all arrangements have been made by the provincial interim government and Election Commission of Pakistan.

A total of 15,697 polling stations have been established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while the number of polling stations reserved for men and women are 4,810 and 4,286 respectively.

ECP has established 6,610 joint polling stations for men and women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) handed over polling equipment to Presiding Officers. Equipment needed on polling day included election lists, bags to be used on polling day, and screens to offer privacy to voters and stationary items handed over to the POs.

Soon after collecting the election equipment, the Presiding Officers of remote areas left for their locality where they would execute their official duties. As per the ECP rule, it is obligatory on the POs to arrive at their concerned polling stations till Wednesday night (07 February, 2024) to adopt all necessary initiatives to smoothly conduct the general election next morning (08 February).

All arrangements have been completed by the Election Commission of Pakistan for free and transparent election in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where over 21.928 million registered voters would decide the fate of 713 candidates contesting for National Assembly seats and 1,814 candidates of provincial assembly seats on Thursday (today).

Over 1,80,000 trained polling staff were deployed for polling duties, according to officials of the provincial election commission. He said that there are over 11.94 million male and 0.98m female who exercise right of votes in KP including Merged Tribal Districts.

The sources said due to the law and order situation and challenges, over 88 percent polling stations to be set up in Peshawar and 72 percent in the entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the upcoming General Elections have been declared either sensitive or most sensitive.

Around 1280 polling stations are to be set up in Peshawar for General Elections.

An official said out of the total, 630 polling stations are declared sensitive while over 500 are declared most sensitive. Over 12,000 policemen supported by the platoons of Frontier Constabulary will be deployed for security during the elections in Peshawar.

Out of 15, 737 polling stations to be set up for polls across KP, only 4,344 stations, less than 28 percent, are declared normal. On the other hand 4,812 polling stations have been declared most sensitive while 6,581 are declared sensitive for the upcoming General Elections.

All arrangements have been finalized to conduct a free election in KP, says Barrister Feroz Shah Kakakhel while talking to media persons. He said the interim is fully committed to ensure transparent elections, stating that provincial relevant departments in collaboration with ECP established control centres. He added the Quick Response Force will also respond in emergency situations.

The Minister informed more than 15,000 polling stations have been set up, some of which are highly sensitive. He said fool-proof security arrangements have been made while keeping in view present security situations in the province.

The Minister warned strict action will be taken if anyone would challenge the writ of the government. He added no one will be allowed to create any law and order situation.

He said no decision was taken regarding suspension of internet service in KP.

The capital city is among the districts declared sensitive for the polls. Many southern districts have also been declared sensitive due to frequent attacks and threats.

The cops have been directed to increase patrolling and set up checking points at the entrances to check the suspicious elements. Police across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are on high alert to maintain law and order during and before the polls. Brandishing of weapons and pillion riding has already been banned after Section 144 was imposed by the respective district administration.

As per the security plan, 11 security personnel would be deployed at most sensitive polling stations in the southern belt and merged districts of the province. In other parts of KP, seven security personnel would be deployed at every most sensitive polling station. In southern and merged districts, seven security personnel would be deployed at each of the sensitive polling stations and four security personnel at each of the normal polling stations. In the rest of the KP, five security personnel will perform duty at each sensitive and four at each normal polling station.

It is to be stated here that 342 polling stations had been set up across the district Khyber District for NA-27. Similarly 108 polling stations had been established for PK-69(Khyber-1) while 117 polling stations had been planned for PK-70(Khyber-2). In the same way 117 polling stations had been established for PK-71(Khyber-3).

It’s worth mentioning here that a coalition of 50 leading civil society organizations, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) will deploy around 19,000 observers to monitor 85 percent of National Assembly polling stations across the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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