World | Pakistan

Karachi hard-pressed to secure polling stations

Authorities rope in retired police officers and private security agencies

  • By Mohammad Ashraf, Correspondent
  • Published: 18:07 April 22, 2013
  • Gulf News

Karachi: A senior provincial police officer on Monday said that half of the almost 4,000 polling stations in Karachi are sensitive in terms of the law and order situation and revealed plans to call up retired police officers and reputed private security agencies to secure the election process.

Additional inspector general of Sindh, Gulam Shabir Shaikh, told media representatives on the sidelines of a seminar that some 3,700 to 4,000 polling stations were supposed to be set up all across the sprawling city. Half of those polling stations were considered highly sensitive given the possibility that law and order situations could flare up in those areas, he added.

Shaikh said that all polling stations in the western districts of the city were deemed sensitive. A number of towns in the west of the city including Badia, Ittehad, Lyari, Mangopir and Site were considered unstable with criminal and militant groups reported to be active there, he said.

The deputy chief of the provincial police said that a list of the volatile polling stations had been drawn up and plans were afoot to deploy police and security forces in such areas. He said that contingents of the army would be on stand-by and called up if the situation got out of hand in any constituency during the polling.

It may be recalled that the Election Commission of Pakistan had earlier issued a list of sensitive polling stations across the country, with the southern province of Sindh accounting for the largest number of such stations.

The ECP strongly recommended deployment of the army across sensitive polling stations but the caretaker federal government has decided to keep the army as a reserve force which would be called only in the event of the law and order situation getting out of control somewhere.

The ECP also proposed to the government to install close circuit televisions (CCTVs) at sensitive polling stations, but the provincial government turned down the idea saying it was not financially or technically feasible to implement the proposal.

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