Govt approves Rs42 billion to hold general elections on February 8

Caretaker info minister rejects reports of funds shortage, says Rs10b released already n ECP seeks Pak Army deployment at polling stations due to non-availability of enough police personnel.

ISLAMABAD  -  Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi Monday ruled out any ‘crisis on meeting the financial needs of the ECP’ in order to hold free, fair and transparent general elections in the country.

“The Cabinet had approved Rs 42 billion for the budgetary needs of the ECP. An amount of Rs10 billion was already released,” the minister wrote on X formerly Twitter. He said the Election Commission of Pakistan had approached the government to get released Rs17.4 billion, out of the budgeted amount.

“Whatever budgeted amount is needed by the ECP, will be released as per its needs accordingly,” Solangi added.

He said the caretaker government firmly stood behind the ECP in holding free and fair elections as mandated by Article 218(3) of the Constitution. Earlier, the top election regulatory body was informed that funds for upcoming general elections will be released very soon. The Election Commission of Pakistan has been reminding the government’s concerned department for issuing remaining allocated amount for upcoming general polls, sources said.

The electoral watchdog, according to the sources, had nearly one third of the allocated funds. The Commission has also written reminder to the finance department for disbursement of funds. Over unsatisfactory response, the commission had also decided to inform the caretaker prime minister about the matter.

On it, Finance Secretary Imdad Ullah Bosal assured electoral watchdog of disbursement of funds for upcoming general elections scheduled to be held on February 08. The concerned ministry said that the letter written by the electoral body on November 14 was received on November 18. Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Monday sought the help of the Pakistan Army to ensure the law and order situation during the general polls. 

In the lead-up to the polls, all political parties have geared up for a face-off, while the ECP has notified the final list of delimitation of constituencies of the national and four provincial assemblies. The electoral watchdog is also expected to announce the election schedule, later this month — 54 days before the polls in line with the law. During the elections, the security situation is a grave concern for the authorities concerned and to ensure that nothing goes south, law enforcers are deployed at polling stations and they are also on patrol. “While the ECP takes all necessary steps to organise an election, [...] it also expects the same commitment from the executive authorities and law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order in the area of the constituencies during the conduct of elections,” the ECP’s letter to the interior ministry read.

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