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Almost 51% polling stations categorised ‘sensitive’ by ECP

ISLAMABD (PEN) : Almost 51% of the polling stations have been categorised “sensitive” by the Election Commission of Pakistan for the upcoming general elections on February 8, on Monday.

Out of the total 90,675 polling stations, according to the electoral authority, 46,065 have been categorised as sensitive and 18,437 as highly sensitive.

ECP sources told  that the total number of sensitive and most sensitive polling stations in Punjab has reached 18,620, and these include 12,580 sensitive and 6,040 most sensitive, whereas as many as 32,324 of the total 50,944 polling stations in the largest province have been declared as normal.

In Sindh, unlike Punjab, 5,937 out of the total 19,006 polling stations in the province have been categorised as normal. Of these, there are 6,545 sensitive and 6,524 most sensitive polling stations in the province.

Likewise, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the number of sensitive and most sensitive polling stations comes to 10,309, and these include 6,166 sensitive and 4,143 highly sensitive ones. The total number of polling stations in the province is 15,697 out of which 5,388 are normal.

Quite understandably, the situation in Balochistan is a matter of serious concern in terms of security and sensitivity. Here, in this area-wise the largest but population-wise smallest province, the total number of polling stations is 5,028, out of which just 961 have been declared as normal and the remaining 4,067 are either sensitive or most sensitive. These include 2,337 sensitive and 1,730 most sensitive polling stations.

The ECP on Friday issued the final polling scheme for the February 8 general elections, envisaging a total of 90,675 polling stations with 2,76,402 polling booths to be set up across the country for over 128 million voters.

A senior official conceded that over 150,000 fewer polling booths are being established than required under the law, which will make it almost impossible at various places for all present to vote, if the turn-out is high.

As per the scheme, in Punjab, 50,944 polling stations will be established for the general elections, followed by 19,006 in Sindh, 15,697 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 5,028 in Balochistan.

Section 59(6) of the Elections Act, 2017, requires publication of the final list of polling stations of each constituency at least 30 days ahead of the polling day in the official Gazette as well as on the website of the ECP. But the commission missed the legal deadline, it had set for itself of 15 days.

The polling scheme outlines the distribution of polling stations across all four provinces and the federal capital, categorising them as normal, sensitive, or highly sensitive based on the security situation and electoral violence history.

The ECP Thursday last, through a notification, said that unlike the 2018 general elections, the Army troops deployed for poll-related security duties will stay outside the polling stations for electoral exercise.