Secretary General Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P), Farhatullah Babar has expressed serious concern over the order that only female polling agents will be allowed at the female polling stations in the rural areas of Sindh.
"The latest order is an explicable departure from the past practice and is aimed at leaving female polling stations entirely at the mercy of official polling staff without necessary oversight by the representatives of political parties", he said in a statement on Monday.
In the past, in the rural areas due to shortage of female election workers male polling agents have been posted in female polling stations by mutual agreement of the contesting candidates who all belonged to the same locality, family and extended families, he said.
Why is this abrupt restriction imposed just when the elections are two days away, he asked?
If at all it was necessary the Election Commission of Pakistan should have issued directives several months ago to enable candidates and parties train female political workers on how to keep an eye on various facets of polling on the election day, he said.
The abrupt order at this stage amounts to leaving the polling stations at the mercy of polling staff to manipulate at will the activities on the polling day without oversight of candidates and parties through polling agents, he said.
The army personnel to be posted at the polling stations are complete strangers to the female voters of the area. If strangers can be posted at female polling stations why not male polling agents belonging to the same locality be posted with the consent of the candidates and parties, he asked?
The latest order will only tilt the scales against popular political parties and amounts to pre-poll rigging.
The PPP calls upon the Election Commission of Pakistan to revers its order and allow male polling agents at the female polling stations with mutual consent of candidates and parties, he said.