RAWALPINDI: All is set to hold the general elections on Wednesday 25th July as all the arrangements including security, have been finalized for conducting polls in the free, fair and transparent manner in Rawalpindi division.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sources, the basic facilities including electricity, drinking water, toilets for the polling staff and voters at all polling stations have been ensured in Rawalpindi division. The election campaign would terminate on the midnight falling between Monday and Tuesday.
The Commission had finalized Polling Schemes for seven National Assembly and 15 Provincial Assembly of the Punjab constituencies of Rawalpindi district while 6200 polling booths including 3,200 for male and 3,000 for female voters are being set up for polling. Total 2,576 Polling Stations have been set up in the district where 3,125,669 voters including 1,647,507 male and 1,478,162 female voters will cast their ballot to elect representatives of their choice.
The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has activated the Result Transmission Service (RTS) to enable Returning Officers to send results to the ECP through the service. NADRA teams visited the offices of Returning Officers to activate RTS and according to the ECP, the presiding and assistant presiding officers have been given the software to use through smartphones. The presiding officers who did not have smartphones, the software linked to the smartphones of their respective subordinate staff which will be used to onward pass on the results of respective constituency after compilation.
Printing of ballot papers has also been completed while polling equipment already distributed among the ROs. ECP has also reviewed the preparations for the general elections and directed the provincial chief secretaries to ensure the security of Returning Officers and Polling staff in their respective provinces. The District Returning Officers and Returning Officers were appointed mostly from the lower judiciary, while the assistant returning officers were selected from the civil bureaucracy – mainly district administration group.
The District Returning Officer (DRO) Rawalpindi Muhammad Khalid Nawaz received election material including ballot boxes, seals, polling booths, ink, ballot papers and other necessary items which have been kept in double lock up under a tight security arrangement. The Commission has directly given election material to the concerned Returning Officers (ROs) in this regard. Training of polling staff, screens for the compartment and seating arrangements for presiding officers in the constituencies have also been completed. The election commission has constituted a control room in every constituency of the district where one returning officer (RO) would remain present all the time to monitor the elections and polling activities through cameras installed in the polling
Meanwhile, the DRO had directed the District Regional Transport Authority (DRTA), Secretary Khalid Yameen Satti to immediately arrange over 1,000 buses and wagons to dispatch the election material and election staff to their relative polling stations on the polling Day. Talking to APP, the Secretary RTA informed that the arrangement of buses and wagons would be finalized here till Monday. In the Rawalpindi District 104 polling stations have been declared as highly sensitive while 91 others have been termed as sensitive.
According to officials of the ECP, polling schemes for the seven National Assembly (NA) and 15 Provincial Assembly constituencies of Rawalpindi district had been finalized.
As many as 75 candidates are competing for the NA seats while 166 candidates are vying for the PA seats. There are six heavyweight candidates in the running including former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, former federal minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Raja Qamar-ul-Islam. Dr. Hasan Askari in a recently held high-level meeting here at Commissioner Office reviewed election arrangements. He also took important decisions for holding free, fair, transparent and peaceful general election. He directed the authorities to ensure the best possible security arrangements for the polling day. According to Commissioner Office Rawalpindi, as many as 6,132 cops will perform security duty in Rawalpindi district while 2,754 will be deployed in Attock district. Similarly, 1,841 police officials will be on security duty in Jhelum and nearly 2,141 in Chakwal district.
Strict monitoring of polling stations will be carried out through CCTV cameras and district monitoring officers are monitoring the steps taken for implementation of the code of conduct issued by Election Commission of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Rawalpindi police have also finalized election security plan. According to City Police Officer (CPO) Abbas Ahsan, the police are taking all possible measures to maintain law and order during the election campaign and for the polling day.
The CPO informed that the ban on display of weapons will be implemented in letter and spirit and no one would be allowed to violate the ban. He said that the polling stations in Rawalpindi were categorized as A, B and C for security purposes. As part of security arrangements, the CPO said that the district had been divided into sectors and
sub-sectors. Each police station in the district constitutes one sector while a contingent of reserve police personnel will be at the disposal of the police station and will act accordingly as and when required bases by the relevant police station. Meanwhile, polling stations have been divided into sub-sectors of 20 police stations, with each sub-sector assigned two police personnel on a motorbike and a patrol van with six police personnel. He said the authorities concerned have been requested for deployment of 1200 extra police personnel to assist the local
According to ECP sources, NA-59, Rawalpindi-III, is the most sensitive constituency in Rawalpindi district having 31 highly sensitive and seven sensitive Polling Stations (PSs). The administration on the directive of caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Dr. Hasan Askari has finalized tight security arrangements for A, B & C category polling stations (PSs) in Rawalpindi Division as 606 Polling Stations (PSs) set up for election have been declared highly sensitive and 1036 sensitive in Rawalpindi Division including Attock, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Jhelum and Islamabad. Over 12,841 police personnel will be deployed at 5,328 polling stations in four districts of Rawalpindi division including Rawalpindi, Attock, Jhelum, and Chakwal.
Meanwhile, the security plan for the polling stations falling under the administrative control of Islamabad capital territory has been finalized by the Islamabad administration separately. According to the administrative division by the Election Commission of Pakistan, Islamabad is part of the Rawalpindi region. Out of 786 polling stations of the
federal capital, 26 have been declared highly sensitive, 87 sensitive and 673 normal in the federal capital. 1,069 polling stations of Attock district include 301 highly sensitive, 532 sensitive while 236 are normal.
Rawalpindi district which would have 2,576 total polling stations including 145 highly sensitive, 99 sensitive and 2332 normal while Chakwal district has total 925 polling stations with 74 highly sensitive, 217 sensitive and 634 normal. Similarly, Jhelum would have 60 highly sensitive, 101 sensitive and 597 normal in total 758 polling stations of the district.
DG ISPR briefs British parliamentarians
LONDON: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor here on Tuesday visited British Parliament and briefed the parliamentarians about the Pakistan Army’s role in the war against terrorism.
He visited the British Parliament at the invitation of the parliamentarians of House of Commons and House of Lords, a statement of Pakistan High Commission said.
The parliamentarians highly appreciated the role of Pakistan in the war against terrorism. Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Syeeda Warsi were also present on the occasion.
Salvini, Macron clash after France caught migrant dumping
ROME: Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini hit out at President Emmanuel Macron after French police were caught committing the “unprecedented offense” of dumping migrants in Italian woods.
Salvini, also deputy prime minister and head of the anti-immigrant League party, on Monday, demanded a “clear response” after French authorities admitted to returning migrants to Italy in “error”.
A French police van was seen on Friday driving into Italy to return recently-arrived migrants to the town of Claviere.
“It was an error to enter Italian territory without the authorization of the Italian police,” said Cecile Bigot-Dekeyzer, the top official in the Hautes-Alpes region.
“The police had no right to enter Italian territory,” the prefect said.
An outraged Salvini batted away that explanation, while France said the incident should be “kept in perspective”.
“Abandoning migrants in an Italian wood can’t be just a mistake or an incident,” Salvini said on social media. “What happened in Claviere is an unprecedented offense towards our country.”
“Does Paris, which claims to be civil, find it normal to throw people into the woods?… We’re dealing with an international shame, and Mr. Macron can’t pretend he doesn’t know. We won’t accept any excuses,” Salvini wrote.
– ‘It was a mistake’ –
“Let’s keep this in perspective,” an official in the French president’s office told journalists on Tuesday.
“It was a mistake, the authorities have admitted that. There was an incursion, not planned or according to the procedure, into Italian territory, where two people were dropped off.”
Thousands of migrants are caught each year trying to enter France and returned to the Italian border. Last year AFP journalists saw French police dropping off migrants in front of Bardonecchia train station, in Italy.
A source close to Macron slammed Salvini’s “essentially individual political exploitation” of the incident.
Italian Prime Minister “Giuseppe Conte hasn’t turned this incident into proof of a crisis,” the French presidency said.
“We manage our shared border together and there are occasional small regrettable incidents on both sides.”
Relations between Rome and Paris have been increasingly tense in recent months, with Italy’s populist government accusing France and others of failing to share the burden of the 700,000 migrants and asylum seekers that have crossed the Mediterranean to come to Italy since 2013.
French police in March sparked outrage by carrying out identity checks at Bardonecchia station, with the Italian foreign ministry summoning the French ambassador to protest.
In June, Macron criticized Salvini for closing Italian ports to the Aquarius migrant rescue boat, prompting a fresh summoning of the ambassador.
US announces sanctions on key Iranian paramilitary force
WASHINGTON: The US Treasury Department today slapped sanctions on an Iranian paramilitary group along with a network of businesses that were providing it financing, as part of Washington’s campaign of maximum economic pressure against Tehran.
In announcing the sanctions, Treasury said a network of more than 20 businesses known as the Bonyad Taavon Basij was financing the Basij Resistance Force, a component of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“The international community must understand that business entanglements with the Bonyad Taavon Basij network and IRGC front companies have real-world humanitarian consequences,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The Basij, a paramilitary force formed soon after the 1979 revolution, is one of the Iranian regime’s primary enforcers of internal security with branches in every province and city of Iran, according to the US Treasury.
The Bonyad Taavon Basij is said to provide the Basij militia social welfare services, including housing and financial support, and manages economic activities by funding small companies. “Bonyad Taavon Basij has expanded its reach into Iran’s economy by establishing several investment firms through its financial and investment offshoot Mehr Eqtesad Bank,” the Treasury statement said.
Among the other companies singled out was Iran Tractor Manufacturing Company (ITMC), the largest tractor manufacturer in the Middle East and North Africa which predates the Iranian revolution, that generates millions of dollars in profit for the investment firms that represent the Basij. Also targeted was Iran’s Zinc Mines Development Company, described as the country’s “preeminent, multibillion-dollar zinc and lead mining and processing holding company.”