KARACHI: As many as 94 percent polling stations have been declared sensitive in terms of security as nation’s commercial capital, home to at least 20 million people, prepares for the local government election to be held on Saturday.
In Sindh, the local polls would be held in Karachi West, Karachi East, Karachi South, Karachi Central, Korangi and Malir.
As part of security arrangements , the Election Commission of Pakistan has authorized the Pakistan Rangers Sindh to enter polling stations. The ECP has summoned 20 companies of Pakistan Army to be deployed in the city to assist during the elections.
According to an ECP notification, Army and Rangers personnel will be in charge of the law and order and security situation on the polling day, while Rangers personnel will also have powers of First Class Magistrate, giving them powers to enter any polling station and arrest any suspect if the need arises.
The decision from the electoral body came after killing of two army personnel sewed the seeds of fear among Karachiites just days before the local government elections in six districts of the city.
Only 234 out of a total of 4,141 polling stations in Karachi for the third phase of the elections have been declared normal, with over 94 percent of stations declared either sensitive or highly sensitive.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 1,791 polling stations (43pc) have been declared highly sensitive while 2,116 (54pc) are being considered sensitive.
All polling stations in District Central and Korangi have been declared either sensitive or highly sensitive.
The largest number of highly sensitive polling stations (497) is in District West, with 396 stations declared sensitive out of a total of 937 stations where polling will take place on Saturday. Meanwhile, 859 polling stations were declared sensitive in Karachi’s District Central.
The Special Security Unit (SSU) of the Sindh Police said that 400 police commandos will also be deployed in Karachi on polling day.
These commandos will be posted at highly sensitive polling stations and will be equipped with state-of-the-art weapons to carry out their duties, said an SSU spokesman.
The polling would begin at 7:30 in the morning and would continue till 5:30 in the evening without any break.
In the third round polling will be held in twelve districts of Punjab including Layyah, Rajanpur, D.G. Khan, Muzaffargarh, Rawalpindi, Jhang, Khushab, Multan, Sialkot, Narowal, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur.
The Election Commission has made all the arrangements to hold elections in a fair and transparent manner.
The ECP has has also established a control room in Islamabad which would work till the finalisation of results.
The Control Room would receive complaints regarding irregularities in the polling process and take action for their redressal.
Meanwhile, elaborate security arrangements have been made to maintain law and order and avoid any untoward incident.