The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is actively preparing for the impending general elections, with a crucial mock test of its Election Management System (EMS) scheduled for January 26, a mere 16 days before the elections are set to take place. In this regard, the ECP has disseminated Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and comprehensive guidelines to all provincial election commissioners, outlining the necessary steps for the mock exercise.
As part of the preparatory measures, returning officers (ROs) have been instructed to meticulously certify and finalize Forms 28 and 33 within the EMS by January 25. These forms encapsulate critical details concerning candidates and the number of polling stations allocated to each constituency.
A key facet of the mock exercise involves providing ROs with a dummy Form-45 on January 25. Subsequently, on January 26 at 5 pm, presiding officers are mandated to submit results, encompassing 1-2 pages for each National Assembly (NA) and Provincial Assembly (PA) constituency, through their designated mobile applications. Presiding officers are allowed to capture snapshots of any page, treating it as Form-45, which captures results from individual polling stations.
The process continues with EMS operators initiating data entry from 5 pm on January 26. Once this data entry is completed, ROs are expected to generate Form-47, symbolizing the final outcome of the election.
Post the mock exercise, ROs are entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that all presiding officers adhere to guidelines for clearing cache data. Additionally, EMS operators are directed to assist presiding officers in clearing the cache on their respective smartphones.
In a separate development, the ECP has taken a significant step by freezing all development funds of local governments with immediate effect until the announcement of the general election results. This directive is grounded in the ECP’s commitment to ensuring fair, just, and law-abiding elections. The objective is to prevent local government institutions and cantonment boards from influencing the results and to maintain a level playing field for all political parties and candidates.
In light of this directive, local government bodies are directed to focus solely on their routine duties related to sanitation and cleanliness. They are explicitly instructed not to announce or execute any new development schemes, with exceptions granted only for those approved before the election schedule was declared on December 15.
Furthermore, local bodies are prohibited from issuing tenders for any schemes without prior approval from the ECP until the conclusion of the general elections. This freeze on development funds is a strategic move to uphold the integrity and impartiality of the electoral process.