The News reported Monday that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said it had finished printing 260 million ballot papers for all 859 constituencies across the country. There are now only three days left until the much-anticipated general elections.
A spokesperson for the electoral body said that some ballot papers had been reprinted in a few constituencies as ordered by the Supreme Court. This was also done on time.
After reprinting, he said that the process of delivering ballots across the country was now under way and would be finished by today, Monday.
The spokesman said that 800 tonnes of special security paper were used to print 220 million ballots for the 2018 general election. On the other hand, 2,170 tonnes of paper were used to print 260 million ballots for the 2024 general election.
He said that the main reason for the rise was that there were 1.5 times as many candidates in each constituency as there were in the 2018 elections.
A spokesperson said that there were many problems during the printing process, such as court cases and a lot of candidates. However, the commission did its job and finished the printing of ballots on time, even though there wasn’t much time or help available.
More terrorist attacks happen before the elections.
On a separate note, the Balochistan government banned public meetings and election-related gatherings in Quetta on Sunday, saying that there were security risks.
In a post on the social media site X, Balochistan’s acting information minister, Jan Achakzai, said that the ban was put in place “in response to a terror alert” that there was a possible female suicide bomber in Quetta. He said that the safety of the public should come first.
On February 8, he said that internet service would stay off around sensitive polling places in Balochistan.
He said that because of terrorism alerts, the internet would be shut down for a short time before the 2024 elections. It would be harder to connect to the internet in Turbat, Mach, Chaman, and other parts of the province.
Making sure civilians were safe was the top priority of the government, according to the caretaker minister. He said that terrorists could use social media to do bad things during the election. “He said that terrorists can use social media to talk to each other.”
At the same time, there was a report of a bomb going off outside the ECP office in the Nushki district of Balochistan. According to the police, the bomb was set off outside the ECP office’s gate. No one was hurt in the incident, though.
At the same time, a returning officer (RO) from NA-197, Shahdadkot, raised serious concerns about the Election Management System (EMS), which is a way for the ECP to put together the results.
In a letter to the district returning officer (DRO), the returning officer (RO) from the National Assembly’s group in Sindh asked the DRO to pay attention to what he called “flaws” in the top electoral body’s EMS.
He told the DRO about mistakes he saw in the poll management system while the details of the polling staff were being uploaded. The RO said, “The names of the polling staff had disappeared, even though they had been uploaded on EMS.”
The officer was worried about how well the software was working and said that either the whole EMS was broken or “someone else is controlling it.”
He also said that the polling authority and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), which he had asked to answer his questions, had not responded.
In the letter, it was said that the software was “causing difficulties” instead of doing the voting tasks easily. According to the RO, the EMS is said to have some problems that will make it hard to run a fair and free general election. When the ECP officers got the letter, they didn’t agree with the RO and called his concerns “IT incompetence of the returning officer” and a “mischievous act.”
They replied, “We trained yesterday and all of the ROs were able to successfully upload their forms to EMS.” The chief secretary and the Pakistan Engineering Council say that not a single RO made a complaint during the training.
The ECP said that the information about the poll workers had already been sent to the EMS, so there was no need to send the records again during yesterday’s training session. It was also said that the commission had trained ROs who could be used during the upcoming elections. The EMS was put through a “successful” mock test by the top electoral body on January 27. The results were useful and encouraging.