=> ISLAMABAD, Dec 31: The elections scheduled for Jan
ISLAMABAD, Dec 31: The elections scheduled for January 8 are most likely to be put off for weeks because, official sources said, holding polls in various constituencies would not be possible on that day owing to the situation arising out of the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.
They said that recompilation of the destroyed record of the Election Commission and redeployment of around one million temporary polling staff was an uphill task and the exercise would require 10 to 12 weeks.
The sources said it was not possible to complete the printing of ballot papers by January 5 as required by the programme prepared by the Commission. The suspension of oil supply and closure of petrol and CNG stations adversely affected the electoral process in terms of transportation and logistics. The law and order situation in many parts of the country was not conducive to electioneering. They said a fresh exercise was needed to be undertaken in a number of sensitive areas.
The EC will decide the fate of the elections on Tuesday after receiving reports from the provinces.
“We have called reports from the provincial governments and provincial election commissioners on the situation.”
EC Secretary Kanwar Dilshad said after a meeting of the Commission: “We have sought reports on damage, law and order situation and the prevailing atmosphere.”
He said the EC would meet again on Tuesday to decide either to go for polls on January 8 or to postpone them. “We have to look into all pros and cons before taking any decision about holding or postponing the polls,” he said.
He said a number of issues would be discussed before taking a decision.
Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Qazi Muhammad Farooq presided over the meeting which was held to take stock of the situation. Commission members Justice Nasim Sikandar and Justice Ahmed Khan Lashari and Kanwar Dilshad attended the meeting.
The meeting was informed that the work of EC had been severely affected as its offices had been set on fire in several areas.
It was also informed that a polling agent from Kurram Agency had sent a letter to the Commission saying that circumstances were not conducive to holding elections there.
It is expected that a date in March would be fixed for polling.
According to the EC, its offices and ballot boxes and voting scanners were torched in Sukkur, Jamshoro, Naushehro Feroze, Qambar, Shahdadkot, Thatta, Ghotki, Jacobabad, Badin and Dadu districts of Sindh. In these areas, training of polling staff has also been affected.
The EC meeting also condoled the death of Ms Bhutto and other victims of the Liaquat Bagh tragedy and prayed to the Almighty Allah to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families.
Meanwhile, the caretaker NWFP government recommended to the Election Commission to hold elections in the province on schedule, except in Swat, where the law and order situation is not conducive to polls, our Peshawar Bureau adds.
The decision to make the recommendation was taken in a meeting of the cabinet held here on Monday with Chief Minister Shamsul Mulk in the chair.
Minister for Information Imtiaz Hussain Gilani told Dawn that the cabinet had asked the EC to conduct elections in 23 districts of the province and delay them in Swat where a military operation was under way.
He said that Asfandyar Amirzeb, who was contesting election from the PF-81 Swat seat, had been killed in a bomb blast last week while another candidate had been abducted on Sunday. Besides, he said, security forces were carrying out an operation against militants in certain parts of the district.
The Civil Secretariat, Fata, has urged the EC to delay polls in two National Assembly constituencies in the Kurram Agency because of clashes between tribesmen.
The cabinet also decided that all schools and colleges would re-open on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a meeting presided over by Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai reviewed the law and order situation in the province and matters relating to coming elections.