ISLAMABAD : – The Electoral Commission of Pakistan appointed district returning officers, returning officers, and assistant returning officers for the Punjab election on Friday.

According to the ECP announcement, deputy commissioners have been awarded the position of district returning officers in all 36 districts of Punjab. The elections would take place on April 30.

Capt Waseem, former Deputy Secretary Irrigation, has been appointed as Lahore’s returning officer. In each of the 29 constituencies, the returning officer (RO) and deputy returning officers have been selected.

Elections will be conducted in Lahore from PPP 144 to 173. In summary, officials have been appointed as ROs in Punjab’s 297 constituencies.

Previously, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asked an immediate budget of Rs15 billion to enable the smooth conduct of the 2018 general elections in the two provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The electoral watchdog claimed in an important meeting on Thursday at the election commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, that Rs20 billion was needed for the polls. Just Rs5 billion has been paid to the commission so far, leaving a Rs15 billion shortage.

The commission has requested that the government release the required cash as soon as possible so that election preparations may proceed without additional delay.

The finance and home secretaries were summoned to the conference to assure the supply of finances and security for the aforementioned elections.

The electoral commission notified the finance secretary that a staggering Rs65 billion would be necessary to run the forthcoming general election throughout the whole nation.

The finance secretary noted the country’s severe economic circumstances and indicated challenges in delivering the required finances for the forthcoming elections in his report to the election commission.

The briefing provided light on the economy’s present status, covering challenges such as inflation, mounting debt, and dwindling income sources.

The secretary of the electoral commission said that more staff will be needed in both the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces to maintain the safety and security of the voting process.

Apart from the police in both provinces, the secretary election commission told the commission that 297,000 more employees will be needed in Punjab and 56,000 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The interior secretary was entrusted with securing the required people from the Army, Rangers, and other law enforcement agencies and informing the Commission once the preparations were complete.

On March 10, 2023, the Pakistani government scheduled a conference with sensitive agencies such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and Counter-Terrorism Departments (CTDs) of both provinces.

Also, the inspector general and chief secretary of both provinces have scheduled a meeting for next week.

A meeting with the Ministry of Defense was now taking place to discuss the required procedures to guarantee a fair and secure voting process.

Additionally, Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has stated his wish to meet with the commission next week to establish the timing of the elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This discussion is considered to be critical in determining the schedule for elections in this vital province.

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