ISLAMABAD - The electoral body has desired provision of stringent security to the general polls candidates, political parties and general public as it continues to attract ire of ‘endangered’ political forces over apparently compromised security measures.

“The election commission has desired the undersigned to convey that all necessary measures be adopted for security and protection of all the contesting candidates, leaders of the political parties as well as common citizens as deemed necessary,” says a letter from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) written on Saturday to the top administrative and security officials at the Centre, provinces and paramilitary forces.

Moreover, the ECP issued the list of the 21,326 polling stations marked as highly sensitive and sensitive for the next month’s general elections, out of the total 73,000 polling stations. Interestingly, it is not the Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but Sindh which has the highest number of sensitive and highly sensitive polling stations.

The list has been shared with the federal and provincial governments, to be corresponded to the military authorities next week. This would be followed by a meeting between the ECP management and military command to finalise security measures.

The identification of the highly sensitive and sensitive polling stations was carried out by the district election security committees (DESCs). The military and ECP management would also mark the ‘most sensitive’ polling stations, whose details would not be publicly released, an ECP media official informed.

According to the list, 10,273 polling stations are categorised as highly sensitive and 11,053 as sensitive across the country. The area wise number of highly sensitive and sensitive polling stations is as: Sindh 4,629 highly sensitive and 3,621 sensitive; Punjab, 2,617 and 2,911; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1,056 and 2,980; Balochistan 1,451 and 1,071; Fata 510 and 459; while in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) 10 21 polling stations have been marked as highly sensitive and 11 as sensitive.

Furthermore, the ECP Saturday letter quotes 11 instances involving attacks on the ECP offices in Balochistan as well as the killing of Quetta district election commissioner (DEC) Zia Qasmi. In implied references, the letter also mentions of attacks on the leaders of Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in KPK and Balochistan.

The letter asks the caretaker governments to “ensure complete safety to persons and property of candidates and leaders of each and every political party” as well as common citizens. “Such acts of terrorism are likely to lower the morale of the public, as such, must be dealt with an iron hand.”

Meanwhile, the poll body on Saturday asked the Printing Corporation of Pakistan and Security Printing Press to have 180 million ballot papers printed by this month-end. The ballot papers would be transported to the ECP offices throughout the country earlier next month and subsequently to the polling stations under military’s protection.