With the approach of Pakistan’s general elections on February 8, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a crucial code of conduct for security personnel tasked with ensuring a safe and impartial electoral process. This directive is part of a broader effort to guarantee free, fair, and transparent elections, as mandated by caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar’s recently formed committee.
The ECP’s guidelines stress the importance of neutrality, urging security officials to avoid any actions that could be perceived as favoring or discriminating against political parties or candidates. These instructions are pivotal in maintaining the integrity and peaceful conduct of the elections, especially during voting and counting.
Security personnel are expected to adhere to a high standard of behavior, treating voters and polling staff with politeness and fairness while remaining vigilant against any potential disruptions. The guidelines strictly prohibit voter intimidation and the presence of armed individuals at polling stations. In addition, security officials are tasked with ensuring the safe transportation and storage of polling materials.
The ECP has also made provisions for media access to polling stations, allowing for transparent coverage of the voting and counting processes, with restrictions in place to protect voter privacy.
Notably, these guidelines do not extend to the armed forces and civil armed forces, which will follow separate, specific instructions. This distinction underscores the ECP’s commitment to tailoring its approach to different security branches to ensure an optimal and coordinated effort on election day.
Furthermore, law enforcement officials, particularly police officers, are advised against overstepping their roles at polling stations. This includes refraining from verifying voters’ identities, a task designated to polling officers, and ensuring that no eligible voter is denied entry. Security personnel are also instructed to avoid interfering in the voting and counting processes and to act only under explicit instructions from presiding officers.