After KP, Punjab IGP also warns of security concerns amid polls

Punjab Inspector-General of Police Dr Usman Anwar Wednesday informed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about the possible security concerns around  conducting elections amid growing threats of terrorism in the province.

A day earlier, KP Police IG Moazzam Jah Ansari also communicated that the threat of terrorism cannot be ruled out during the upcoming elections in the province.

In a meeting presided by the Cheif Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, the Punjab IG said: “A police operation, which will complete in four to five months, is underway in South Punjab’s rural areas and other districts of the province." The top police officer added that conducting polls in the province would be "a difficult task" until the operation is concluded.”

The Punjab IGP told the participants of the meeting that 412,852 police personnel are required to conduct peaceful elections. However, the Punjab police force comprises 115,000 policemen, he added. 

IG Anwar said: “300,000 more personnel in the force are required. Therefore, services of Pakistan Army and Rangers will be needed to meet this shortfall.” 

He stated that, due to prior information, they prevented 213 terror incidents since December 2022. He added that they received news about possible terrorist activities in almost all districts in the province.

He added: “Hotspot districts on top of the list include Lahore, Sheikhupura, Sahiwal, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Multan, Bahawalpur and Dera Ghazi Khan. Various terrorist groups are present in Bhakkar, Mianwali and Dera Ghazi Khan. These groups are regularly ‘formed’ comprising 20 to 30 people which arrive from Afghanistan and carry out terrorism.”

Rs42 billion needed to maintain law and order

On the other hand, Punjab chief secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman told the ECP that the province needs Rs42 billion to maintain law and order during the elections and also apprised the commission regarding the government’s financial issue.

He suggested the ECP conduct both the national and provincial assemblies' elections on the same day. “If this is not possible, then by-elections of the National Assembly and provincial assembly polls should be held on the same day. If this is not done, the expenditure on elections will be twofold. In such a situation, law enforcement agencies won’t be able to provide foolproof security,” he added.

He also informed the participants regarding initiating the preparation of a security plan and installation of CCTV cameras across all the sensitive polling stations. “There is a serious threat of terrorism in the province.”

He added that the month of Ramadan is arriving during elections in which administrative officers have to ensure price control and security arrangements in mosques for worshippers. Security of rallies and gatherings also has to be arranged amid polls, he further said.

“The census is being conducted in March during which administrative personnel, police officers and teachers will be busy. Meanwhile, examinations and the polio campaign will also be held at the same time, so availability of staff will be difficult,” he said while explaining that officers are also assigned duties during the season of purchasing wheat.

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