TTP ‘highly’ active in KP, ECP told in security briefing

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday was informed that security threats persist in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) due to the banned outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) presence in the province, sources told media.
According to the TV report, a meeting was held at the ECP headquarters in Islamabad chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja in which the poll organising authority was given a briefing by the chiefs of security agencies regarding the latest law and order situation in KP and Punjab. The meeting was summoned by the Election Commission regarding the preparation for polls in the two provinces in line with the order of the Supreme Court.
“There are many security concerns in the KP as the TTP is highly active in the province at the moment,” the sources quoted the officials as saying. Later, in a brief statement, the ECP said the purpose of the meeting was to ensure the holding of polls in a peaceful manner. The commission is meeting the stakeholders in compliance with the apex court orders to hold polls within 90 days of the assemblies’ dissolution.
The elections in Punjab are scheduled to be held on April 30 while the date for KP polls is yet to be finalised. Both the houses were dissolved in mid-January on the direction of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan to pressure the government for snap elections. In a similar briefing by the secretaries of the interior and finance ministries, a day earlier, the election organising authority was informed of certain factors causing difficulties to extend security and funds for elections.
The finance and interior secretaries were called to the meeting to ensure the provision of funds and security for the elections. The ECP told Finance Secretary Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh that it would require at least Rs65 billion to hold the general election across the country. Out of this, Rs20 billion would urgently be needed for polls in Punjab and KP. Sheikh was told that, so far, the ECP was only provided with Rs5 billion and was yet to get the remaining Rs15 billion required in the current financial year.
As per a report, the finance secretary briefed the commission about the overall economic situation of the country. He said it was difficult for the ministry to provide the required funds but, he promised, he would give a final reply after consulting the federal government. Meanwhile, on election security, Interior Secretary Yousaf Naseem Khokhar informed the ECP that apart from the police in the two provinces, other law-enforcement agencies would require 297,000 additional personnel in Punjab and 56,000 in KP. During the meeting, the secretary was urged to contact the army, Rangers and other law-enforcement agencies and inform them to make arrangements for the required force. Along with this, a meeting is also being held on Tuesday with the Ministry of Defence to finalise the arrangements for the election. The KP governor has also expressed his desire to hold a meeting with the ECO next week to decide the date for provincial elections.