ECP Declares 51% of Polling Stations as Security Risk

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has classified a significant number of polling stations as “sensitive” or “highly sensitive” for the upcoming general elections scheduled for February 8, 2024. This classification is based on the security situation and history of electoral violence.

Out of the total 90,675 polling stations, 46,065 have been categorised as sensitive and 18,437 as highly sensitive. This means that almost 51% of the polling stations have been categorised as “sensitive” by the ECP.

In Punjab, the largest province in terms of the number of polling stations, 18,620 have been classified as sensitive or most sensitive. This includes 12,580 sensitive and 6,040 most sensitive stations. However, 32,324 of the total 50,944 polling stations in Punjab have been declared as normal.

In Sindh, 5,937 out of the total 19,006 polling stations have been categorised as normal. The province has 6,545 sensitive and 6,524 most sensitive polling stations.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 10,309 sensitive and most sensitive polling stations, including 6,166 sensitive and 4,143 highly sensitive ones. Out of the total 15,697 polling stations in the province, 5,388 are normal.

The situation in Balochistan, the largest province area-wise but smallest population-wise, is a matter of serious concern in terms of security and sensitivity. Out of the total 5,028 polling stations, only 961 have been declared as normal. The remaining 4,067 are either sensitive or most sensitive, including 2,337 sensitive and 1,730 most sensitive polling stations.

The ECP has issued the final polling scheme for the 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. However, a senior official conceded that over 150,000 fewer polling booths are being established than required under the law.

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.

Unlike the 2018 general elections, the Army troops deployed for poll-related security duties will stay outside the polling stations for electoral exercise.

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