ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday rejected the allegations levelled by Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan regarding printing of extra ballot papers during 2013 general elections by the Provincial Election Commission Punjab at private printing presses in Urdu Bazar, Lahore.
Talking to the media, ECP’s Additional Secretary Sher Afgan said the ECP was ready to prove the allegations wrong through facts and figures at any competent forum, which might be appointed to investigate the same.
He said the printing of ballot papers was a highly sensitive, huge and complex process having many dimensions. “The ECP, therefore, takes maximum possible security measures to ensure that every single ballot paper is printed and delivered to the returning officers in a secure manner through a detailed action plan.”
He said the decision to print ballot papers for 2013 general elections was taken by the ECP in a meeting held with the authorities of the Printing Corporation of Pakistan Press (PCPP), Islamabad and Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC), Karachi on September 6-7, 2012.
It was decided to print total 180 million ballot papers, including 112.5 million by PCPP and 67.5 million by PSPP, he added.
Sher Afgan said the ballot papers were printed on a special non-market paper, which was procured by the PCPP (from two paper mills).
He said, “The exact number of ballot papers to be printed for each constituency is communicated to the provincial election commissioners by the returning officers concerned keeping in view the number of voters in each constituency under their respective jurisdiction and the former, in turn, sends this number to the respective printing presses.”
The entire record containing the names of the representatives of the returning officers along with details of exact number of ballot paper books handed over to them was available with the respective printing press, which could be produced as and when required by competent forum, he added.
Narrating the procedure regarding delivery of ballot papers to returning officers, he said, “Each ballot paper book contains 100 leaves and ballot paper books of a constituency bear a continuous serial number on their counterfoils so as to have a complete record of each and every ballot paper book.
“The ballot papers thus printed are handed over directly to the returning officer or his representatives by the respective printing presses.
“On receipt of ballot papers, the returning officer carries out bulk breaking of all sensitive material, including ballot papers and prepares polling- wise invoice of the same. “Thereafter, the ballot papers are put in the polling bags according to the invoices and then the bags are properly sealed and handed over to the respective presiding officers one day before the poll against a proper receipt.”
According to the allegations, the extra ballot papers were printed and distributed on May 9, 2013 in five divisions of Punjab.
Sher Afghan said in all the 5 divisions, almost 100 percent of the ballot papers had already been distributed to the returning officers by May 9, 2013, who had carried out bulk breaking of these ballot papers and prepared their sealed bags for handing over to the presiding officers one day before the poll i.e. May 10, 2013.
“Therefore, it was practically impossible to print and distribute extra ballot papers to the returning officers for putting them into already sealed bags because, neither returning officers receive ballot papers in piecemeal nor they are allowed to do so under the standing instructions of the ECP,” he added.
Sher Afgan said Provincial Elecetion Commissioner, Punjab, Mahboob Anwar, in a statement submitted to the ECP, rebutted the charges levelled against him by Imran Khan.
Anwar, in statement, said, “In May, 2013 general elections, for the province of the Punjab, 10,72,23,600 ballot papers were got printed from PCP presses in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi as well as Pakistan Security Printing Corporation, Karachi and the same were provided directly to the returning officers by the press concerned under proper delivery receipt, record of which is available with the respective presses.
“It is worth mentioning that on May 7, 2013 the Manager PCPP Islamabad requested the PEC Punjab to make arrangements for the skilled labour for numbering of the huge quantity of ballot papers otherwise it would not be possible to make delivery of the ballot papers to the Returning Officers according to the delivery plan.
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