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Thursday, June 13, 2024  
06 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Fate of Punjab, KP elections hangs in balance

Finance secretary expresses difficulties in providing funds for polls
A voter casts his vote at a polling station during the first provincial elections in Jamrud, Khyber Pakthunkhwa on July 20, 2019. Reuters
A voter casts his vote at a polling station during the first provincial elections in Jamrud, Khyber Pakthunkhwa on July 20, 2019. Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The finance ministry has expressed its difficulties in providing the necessary funds for upcoming elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in view of the economic challenges.

The finance secretary said this during a meeting held at the election commission on Thursday. The meeting was presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja. The finance secretary and home secretary were summoned to the meeting to ensure the provision of funds and security for the said elections.

When the Election Commission of Pakistan said that a whopping Rs65 billion would be required to hold the general election across the entire country, the secretary excused themselves from providing the funds.

The ECP had urgently demanded a budget of Rs15 billion to ensure the smooth conduct of the elections in the two provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies. Out of a sum of Rs20 billion required for the upcoming polls in Punjab and KP – only Rs5 billion has been provided to the commission so far – he added.

The commission appealed to the government to provide the necessary funds “as soon as possible” so that preparations for the elections could continue without any further delays.

Officials shed light on the state of the economy, including issues such as inflation, rising debt, and declining revenue streams. The election commission secretary said that additional personnel would be required in both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces to ensure the safety of the polling process.

Apart from the police in both provinces, the secretary said that 297,000 more personnel would be required in Punjab and 56,000 in KP.

The interior secretary had been tasked with arranging for the necessary personnel from the army, rangers, and other law enforcement agencies and to inform the commission once the arrangements have been made.

The federal government had called for a meeting with sensitive agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, and Counter-Terrorism Departments of both provinces today (Friday).

Besides, the inspector general and chief secretary of both provinces called for a meeting next week.

Furthermore, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali has expressed his desire to meet with the commission next week to determine the date of the elections in the province.

(With input from APP)

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