ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a code of conduct containing a list of dos and don’ts for the security and army personnel scheduled to be deployed for election duty.
According to a report in the local media, the code includes the direction that they will remain impartial and neutral throughout the election process in general and during the voting process in particular.
The army personnel, who will be assigned security duties both inside the polling stations and outside, have been instructed to not influence the voters or favour any particular party or candidate. However, unlike previously, their role has been extended in case of any irregularity or malpractice observed during the election process. In such a situation, the personnel have been told to bring forward the incident to the knowledge of Presiding Officer and take necessary direction from him in the matter. In case irregularity or malpractice continues, the military personnel shall inform his Officer In-Charge through the fast means available, who will take action in the light of the powers delegated to him and will also inform Returning Officer.
The list of don’t for the security personnel include that they shall
i) Not ask the voters to produce their “Perchees” or prove their identity as this is the duty of polling officer,
ii) Not in any case assume the duties of polling staff,
iii) Not act in such a manner which may draw an impression of their being partial or biased,
iv) Not disallow any eligible voter to enter the polling station,
v) Not take into his/her custody any election material,
vi) Not allow any person other than polling staff to take into his/her custody the election material,
vii) Not enter into argument/altercation with any candidate, election agent, polling agent, observer or media person in any manner,
viii) Not interfere in any manner whatsoever in the function of Presiding Officer, Assistant Presiding Officer or Polling Officer,
ix) Not respond at his own to an apparent irregularity by a polling agent or any member of polling staff rather he shall bring the matter to the knowledge of Presiding Officer and take necessary direction from him in the matter. In case irregularity or malpractice continues, shall inform his Officer In-Charge through the fast means available, who will take action in light of the powers delegated to him and will also inform Returning Officer,
x) Not object to the presence of candidate, his/her election agent or his/her polling agent or observer, if any, at the counting process,
xi) Not arrest any person inside the polling station unless explicitly instructed by the Presiding Officer to do so,
xii) Not interfere in the counting process in any manner unless a malpractice has been identified. In that case, he shall inform his officer in charge through fastest means available, who will take action in light of the powers delegated to him and will also inform Returning Officer.
Meanwhile, the list of dos for the military and security officials assigned election duties besides some other include
i. Performing their duties including deploying inside and outside of all polling stations, secure environment for maintenance of law and order, security of printing presses during printing of ballot papers, security during transportation of ballot papers from printing presses to the offices of DROs, security of Presiding Officers during transportation of polling bags from offices of Returning Officers to the polling stations, and security during transportation of election material to the Presiding Officer after completion of polling and counting,
ii) Each gazetted officer and junior commissioned officer of the armed forces of Pakistan and other law enforcement agencies shall exercise powers delegated to them through a notification to be issued by Election Commission,
iii) Cooperated with the concerned DRO, RO, Presiding Officer and polling staff,
iv) remain impartial and neutral throughout the election process in general and during voting process in particular and shall not act in favour of or against any political party or candidate in any manner whatsoever and render their fullest cooperation to the Presiding Officer for maintenance of order and for ensuring un-interrupted voting at the polling station,
v) While dealing with voter and polling staff, observe politeness, display immaculate behaviour,
vi) Frisk/check each voter before entering premises of the polling station,
vii) Facilitate voters and ensure they are properly queued,
viii) Army personnel and civil armed forces officials are supposed to first report to the Presiding Officer any irregularity/malpractice, they observe inside or outside the polling station. In case the Presiding Officer does not act to prevent the irregularity/malpractice, the security staff will immediately bring the matter to the notice of the designated officer in charge,
ix) While performing duties inside the polling station coordinate in a manner that snapshot of Form 45 (Result of Count) and tabulated result has been taken and sent through Result Transmission System to the Commission and ROs by respective Presiding Officers.
There are also some other “dos” which are of routine nature.