ISLAMABAD - SIKANDER SHAHEEN/ABRAR SAEED - The presidential election would be entering into the decisive phase today (Tuesday) with over a thousand elected representatives set to choose the new President of Pakistan.

With the PPP boycotting the vote, PML-N’s Mamnoon Hussain appears set to be victorious as the PTI doesn’t have enough votes in the number game.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Monday night took administrative control of the Parliament and provincial assemblies after declaring them polling stations for the presidential elections.

But on the eve of the voting, parliamentarians from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) staged a walkout in the National Assembly to protest the presidential election date pulled back to July 30 from August 6 on directions from the Supreme Court.

Speaking on the floor prior to the walkout, PPP leader Ameen Faheem said his party would end the boycott if the election was held on its original date.

Similarly in the Senate, Raza Rabbani, who was the PPP nominee for the presidential election, said under the constitution, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was to announce the date for the election. Rabbani said that the ECP could not exercise its independence despite the 18th and 20th amendments.

After the assemblies’ sessions, the ECP took charge of all the six legislative houses in line with its constitutionally prescribed role for the election of new president.

On the ECPs’ instructions, the military, its paramilitary wings and the local police have taken the security control of the Parliament and provincial assemblies.

As many as 1,081 lawmakers including 103/104 in Senate, 324/342 in NA, 352 of 371 in Punjab Assembly, 121/130 in Sindh Assembly, 120/124 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and 61/65 in Balochistan Assembly are the voters for the presidential election.

The results of the presidential election will be announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on the day of the polling.

According to an ECP notification, a letter has been written to the High Court registrars directing them to fax the result after voting concludes.

Separately, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Monday that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) should not have boycotted the Presidential elections.

Addressing the Parliamentary Party meeting, Nawaz said: “The PPP will realise its mistake of boycotting the presidential elections in the future.

“Mamnoon Hussein, is a man of integrity and commitment and is fully capable of holding the exalted office of President of Pakistan. His election will add to the respect and dignity of the party, its allies and Pakistan.”

Alluding to presidential nominee’s credentials, the prime minister expressed the hope that Mamnoon Hussein, after being elected as President, would come up to the nation’s trust and further exhorted the Parliamentary Party members to come on time tomorrow for the presidential voting.

The prime minister also underlined the importance of improving the security situation in the country as economic growth and improved law and order go hand in hand. He said that with improved security situation in the country will bring economic growth, foreign direct investment and overall development.

As part of its preparations, the ECP has restricted access to the legislative houses of all the government officials concerned without the approval of the presiding officers (POs) who have appointed their designated staff members and the ECP personnel for performing duties on Monday and Tuesday.

The returning officer (ROs) has issued the polling day instructions for the voters instructing them to ensure entry at the polling stations before 10 am on Tuesday. The voters have been informed, they would not be allowed to leave the polling stations concerned till the RO/chief election commissioner officially announced the culmination of the voting process. The presidential election voters are further instructed not to carry mobile phones to the polling stations and to have their national identity cards and parliamentary cards with them.

Issuing the security instructions, the RO has instructed that the security, protocol, supporting, personal and any kind of official staff of the prime minister, chief ministers, speakers and deputy speakers of the assemblies, chairman and deputy chairman Senate, federal and provincial ministers, chairmen parliamentary committees and all the other lawmakers shall not accompany them inside the polling station premises. The RO has further ordered the security personnel to ensure that voters’ staff members should stay in the parking areas or other venues set up to facilitate their stay outside the polling stations.  

As part of the security plan, regular army troops, Rangers and local police have been deployed at the outer and inner premises of the polling stations (legislative houses) in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore while Frontier Corps, military, Levies and police are deployed in Peshawar and Quetta.     

An ECP insider, requesting anonymity, said, the POs officers/chief justices high courts along with the RO visited the legislative houses on Monday to supervise the administrative and security arrangements for today’s presidential election. The POs inspected the mobile jamming devices installed at the polling stations while instructing the federal interior secretary and the chief secretaries in the provinces to make sure the jammers functioned properly during the polling day and any kind of cellular communication to and from the polling stations was blocked, the official said.

Printed on Saturday and transported to the ECP offices on Sunday, the 1200 ballot papers would reach the polling stations ahead of the start of official proceedings for presidential poll today morning, the ECP source informed.