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July 13, 2018

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None other but ECP to conduct polls

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said the army is not conducting July 25 general election and their role is restricted to ensuring security and a peaceful environment during the polling.

The Election Commission Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad told a media conference on Thursday that the troops were given the same powers vested in them in the past elections. He said troop deployment is aimed at providing security and making the electoral exercise peaceful.

Fateh Muhammad said the code of conduct has already been issued for the security personnel adding that only the respective polling officials would disseminate results. He maintained that the security officials manning the polling stations would also be responsible for reporting any discrepancies during the polling.

The "CCTV cameras are also being installed at 18,000 polling stations and these would not be breaching the privacy of voters," he explained.

The ECP secretary said candidates receiving threats or being pressured to withdraw from the election race should inform the commission about the matter. He said the caretaker prime minister and agencies have been informed about threat to the lives of various candidates.

"All the four provincial governments have been given instructions for providing safety to the candidates and the commission is keeping an eye on the security arrangements made for them," Babar Yaqoob said. Fateh Muhammad confirmed that the chief election commissioner (CEC) had received a letter from the Facebook management warning the commission about fake accounts posting bogus news on the website. The Facebook administration has created a team to cope with the situation.

He said the process of printing and dispatch of ballot papers is continuing apace. He said the election related material would be delivered to every polling station by July 24, adding mobile phone would not be allowed inside the polling booths.

He said a comprehensive monitoring system has been introduced for the first time and as many as 17,000 polling stations were declared highly sensitive, where CCTV cameras would be installed. Replying to a question, he said the candidates having any complaint about the conduct of elections could inform the ECP for prompt response.

The commission has declared Wednesday as the public holiday using its powers under Article 218 of the Constitution as well as the powers given to it under the Elections Act, 2017.

In a related development, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority on late Thursday issued show cause notices to 22 private television channels for violating the code of conduct released by the Election Commission for the media.

The Pemra also asked the television channels to ensure implementation of the code and amend advertisements before airing them for public viewing. The regulatory body took this measure after instructions by the Election Commission earlier in the day.

The commission directed the Pemra to issue show cause notice to TV channels airing election advertisement campaign carrying an indecent language.

The direction was issued at a briefing to the Election Commission (chief election commissioner and the election commission members) by Pemra about the use of inappropriate language in the election advertisement campaigns by political parties on the electronic media. The commission directed the Pemra to take action against the channels violating the electoral code of conduct.

The regulatory body was also asked to present an estimate of the expenditures of advertisement campaign of political parties on the electronic media. In the light of the scale of cost of poll campaigns on the media, the commission will take further action accordingly.

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