The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday announced it will complete the printing of ballot papers for the Feb. 8 polls by Feb. 2, adding it has already begun the delivery of printed ballots to their relevant constituencies under the protection of security personnel.
In a statement, the electoral body stressed that its preparations for the upcoming general elections were proceeding as scheduled. It said three government press institutes were printing the ballot papers and the process was proceeding “satisfactorily.”
The printing exercise, read the statement, started on Jan. 16 after the allotment of election symbols to all candidates by returning officers. “It will be completed in the next four days, i.e. by Feb. 2,” it added.
According to the electoral body, ROs and district administrations have started delivering the ballot papers to all four provinces with the help of security agencies via road and air. The ECP also urged voters to avail the 8300 SMS service, free to all Pakistani citizens from Jan. 29, to get information about their polling stations ahead of the polling date.
As in previous elections, voters sending their identity card numbers to 8300 get all relevant vote information.
Additionally, read the ECP statement, it had completed the training of 970,000 polling staff of the 976,000 required, or 96 percent of the total number. The remaining 6,000 personnel, it said, would be trained within the next four days.
Also on Monday, the ECP took notice of media reports alleging a group of ulema in Kohistan had issued a fatwa banning women from campaigning. It said it had directing the district monitoring officer of Upper Kohistan to investigate and submit a report on the matter, adding he had clarified the reports were untrue and based on misconceptions.
Nonetheless, read the electoral body’s statement, it wanted to make clear that it would take action under Section 9 of the Elections Act against anyone found to prevent women from either campaigning or voting in any constituency. The process of elections in any such constituency could also be declared null and void, it warned.