The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has declared 676 polling stations highly sensitive in the by-polls for 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly being held on Sunday (tomorrow) and has deployed extra forces of the Rangers and police there to ensure a peaceful polling process.

Punjab Election Commissioner Saeed Gul told the media here on Friday that at least 3,131 polling stations were being set up in the 20 constituencies and 676 of these were highly sensitive and 1,194 sensitive.

Closed-circuit TV cameras were being installed at the highly sensitive and sensitive polling stations, while extra force of Punjab Rangers and police would also be deployed to give a sense of security to the voters and ensure a peaceful polling process, he said. He said police would be deployed at the polling stations, while the Rangers contingents would patrol the areas and the army would be in a stand-by position to avert any eventuality.

He said police would also give security cover to the transport of election material and staff as a separate vehicle would be deputed for each polling station. He said the ECP secretary would remain in Lahore to personally monitor the by-polls in four constituencies, while the Chief Election Commissioner and members of the commission would be manning the central control room at Islamabad.

Responding to a query about PTI’s allegation that “Mr X was overseeing a rigging plan”, Gul said he knew about X and Y only in mathematical equations and that Imran Khan would be in a better position to identify that person.

About the federal and provincial ministers resigning from their offices only to take part in the election campaign and then again most likely to take oath of their offices, the provincial election commissioner said the authority could not do anything about it because the election code of conduct was finalized in consultation with the political parties.

He told a questioner that the commission had sought TV footage from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) about the public meetings and media talks in which the PTI leadership levelled unfounded allegations against the ECP for taking a legal action.

Replying to a question about alleged bogus entries in the voters list, he clarified the PTI was confusing the voters list being prepared for 2023 general election and remained on display till June 30 with the ones finalized in 2020 but additions and deletions were made to them till May 25 this year when the election schedule for the by-polls for 20 seats was announced.

He said SMS 8300 service had been activated for the voters to know their polling station.

Gul told a questioner that the allegations of offering motorcycles against a certain number of votes both by the PML-N and PTI candidates in Multan by-polls had been found to be untrue.

At least 4.58 million voters, of them 2.19m women, will use their right to franchise on July 17. Polling staff comprising more than 23,750 men and women will facilitate the voters at the polling stations, while 50,000 policemen will provide security cover to the electoral exercise.