The possibility of holding elections in Punjab on May 14 has been questioned due to a need for more funding for essential election-related tasks such as printing ballot papers, pictorial electoral rolls, and training polling personnel.
The original timeline for printing ballot papers and electoral rolls has been severely disrupted, and it is now impossible to make up for the lost time.
According to Election Commission sources, the ECP has already informed the Supreme Court that it will not be able to print the required ballot papers, which may halt or delay the entire election process. Let’s know more.
The printing of ballot papers, originally scheduled to start on April 20 and be completed by May 9, has yet to begin due to insufficient finances.
Similarly, the printing of pictorial electoral rolls has already been delayed. The funding issue has affected the printing of these rolls, which was supposed to commence on April 11 and be completed by May 5. The ECP has informed the Supreme Court that printing electoral rolls will not be possible on time, which may disrupt the overall election schedule.
The ECP requires funds to make payments for the deployment of armed forces. Still, the armed forces must be made available for election duties due to their primary responsibilities.
Furthermore, the training of polling personnel has also been delayed due to the non-release of funds. The commission has emphasized to the Supreme Court that a peaceful polling process cannot be ensured with the deployment of police personnel alone and that the deployment of armed and civil armed forces is essential for a free, fair, and transparent election process.
In addition to the funding issue, the Election Commission has also expressed its preference for holding elections in Punjab on October 8, 2023. In a recent report submitted to the Supreme Court by the secretary of the ECP on behalf of the commission, it reiterated that the October 8 poll date is in line with the ground realities and that deviating from this itinerary may lead to anarchy and chaos in the country, a responsibility that the ECP cannot bear.
The commission has warned that if other law enforcement agencies are not supplemented in a static mode during the elections, the lives and safety of the voters, specifically the election staff and the general public, will be at high risk and may be compromised.
The Election Commission of Pakistan’s responsibility is to conduct elections and ensure that elections are conducted freely, fairly, and transparently, allowing voters to cast their votes without fear and in a peaceful manner. The commission remains committed to the October 8, 2023 poll date, which it believes is in line with the ground realities, and has cautioned against deviating from this itinerary to avoid potential chaos and anarchy in the country.