Arrangements in place for peaceful polls: Pakistani officials tell poll body

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Pakistan’s top government and security officials have assured the poll body of their readiness to hold general elections on February 8 amid threats posed by the militants in various parts of the country. Senior officials in a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja to review the preparations for the polls assured that all arrangements were in place to hold elections and deal with “any kind of situation”.

Raja emphasised that the safety and security of candidates and voters must be ensured and a conducive environment for the elections be created so that citizens could exercise their right to vote without fear, Dawn News reported. Despite threat alerts in certain areas, the officials, including chief secretaries and inspectors general of the four provinces, Islamabad’s chief commissioner, members and secretary of the Election Commission, and representatives of other law enforcement agencies, pledged unwavering commitment to peaceful elections.

The officials highlighted the installation of CCTV cameras at sensitive polling stations and the timely supply of funds to relevant agencies. Raja directed that the security of political leaders and voters be prioritised, with strict adherence to the election code of conduct. Troubled Balochistan’s chief secretary discussed the formation of peace committees at polling stations, while Punjab’s chief secretary called for clear policy instructions concerning changes in the allotment of election symbols to avoid delays.

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The chief election commissioner said that the printing of ballot papers was already underway and any changes to election symbols could disrupt the schedule and make it difficult to hold polls in those constituencies. The interior secretary said control rooms have been set up at the federal level for elections. He said the interior ministry was in touch with all institutions and all measures were in place to help the ECP hold peaceful elections.

The meeting also addressed the shortage of police personnel, with assurances of support from other security agencies if needed. Raja said that if any candidate or person violated the law and the code of conduct, strict action would be taken against them as per the law.