Islamabad - Amidst failed attempts to stem the rapidly deteriorating security situation ahead of the polls, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Interior Ministry have finalised a 'contingency' plan on security for the general elections in the wake of increasing violence in different parts of the country.
Furthermore, the commission is to review its draft on the voting facility for the overseas Pakistanis in a meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Law and Justice today (Tuesday), to be sent to the Law Ministry and subsequently to the Presidency for the issuance of a presidential ordinance.
On the polls security and overseas Pakistanis voting issues, the Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim on Monday chaired a consultative meeting with the Caretaker Interior Minister Malik Habib Khan, Law Minister Ahmer Bilal Sufi and Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmed Khan.
Apparently, the ECP-led initiatives in consultation with the authorities concerned have failed to provide foolproof security to the political parties, general polls' contestants and public at large, since there has been no let up in the political violence which has been on an alarming rise as the polling date of May 11 nears.
Talking to this correspondent after the meeting, the interior minister said that he would hold meetings with the military command in connection with the security arrangements for general polls. "The military is assigned a major role in the general polls security arrangement. It is being consulted on every decision taken in this regard," he said adding that the details of the sensitive and highly sensitive polling stations had been shared with the military authorities and security arrangements were being made accordingly.
Regarding increase in the terrorist activities in different parts of the country in general and targeted attacks on the leaders and workers of Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement in particular, the minister said, "We're having intelligence alerts that miscreants would unleash terrorism to sabotage electoral process in pursuit of their evil designs. We would foil their attempts. We're in contact with all the political parties to remove their reservations regarding security measures," he said.
Later, briefing the journalists on the Monday meeting, Habib Khan said that the meeting gave 'final shape' to the polls' security arrangements.
 "We will be able to provide very good security environment," he claimed.

To a query, the interior minister said that an upcoming meeting is scheduled on Thursday to 'modify' the contingency plan on security. "The pan is already finalised. For the satisfaction of the ECP, their input would be shard with the law enforcement agencies. We want ECP and LEAs on the same page."

In this regard, Khan said, allied security agencies are 'on board.'

Ahmer Bilal said that the ECP and Law Ministry's Tuesday (today) meeting would review the draft for making necessary amendments, if required, before the promulgation of presidential ordinance for the voting facility to overseas Pakistanis.

Regarding the state laws in Middle Eastern and Gulf countries that do not allow vote casting and other political activities, Sufi said that the "facilitation of other countries" vis-à-vis expatriates Pakistanis voting facility would also be discussed in the meeting.

About Pervez Musharraf's trial according to Article 6, the caretaker law minister said that the government would follow the Supreme Court orders. "There has been a debate whether to hold his trial now or later. At the moment, everybody is focussing on elections but we'll do whatever SC desires," he said.  

Held primarily to review the measures on general polls security and voters facility for overseas Pakistanis, the Monday meeting was a preparatory session for the today meeting as well as another meeting on security scheduled on Thursday. Secretary defence, interior and top administrative and security officials at the centre and provinces are expected to show up for the meeting.

The ECP has set up district election security committees (DESCs) that have prepared a list of 21,326 polling stations located across the country that are marked as highly sensitive and sensitive.

According to the list, 10,273 polling stations are categorised as highly sensitive and 11,053 as sensitive. 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 and polling stations have been marked as highly sensitive and 11 as sensitive.

It is not the Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but Sindh which has the highest number of sensitive and highly sensitive polling stations