KARACHI - Election Commission of Pakistan has planned to train polling staff for the upcoming general elections with the support of the United Nations Development Programme and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

During the launch of the training programme for the master trainers, a demonstration for the polling process including the fresh initiatives adopted for the transparency and public confidence in the election.

A mock polling station was set up during the launch and the polling process was demonstrated to guests and the media. The initiatives, includes the use of electoral rolls with voter’s photographs, new counting forms and tamper evident bags.

Similarly, the mock polling exercise would be used to train over 700,000 presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and polling officers who will be engaged on 11 May throughout the country.

Marc-Andr Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan, congratulated the Election Commission of Pakistan on its new initiatives and said, “With these new measures, the polling process has improved significantly. The new counting forms enable much greater transparency on voter turnout including recording gender-disaggregated turnout.”

The introduction of tamper evident bags to transport these forms will help deter fraud and increase public confidence. 600,000 tamper evident bags are being provided by UNDP to the ECP for these elections.

UNDP is providing assistance to the Election Commission of Pakistan in collaboration with UN Women and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in areas such as training, results management and voter education through a three year electoral cycle support project supported by the governments of Australia, Norway and the European Union. With the support of UNDP, ECP has launched a voter education campaign targeted at inclusion of youth and women, as well as a new elections results management system for upcoming national and provincial elections.

CONDEMNATIONS: Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain has deplored the killing of a school principal in a grenade attack in Baldia Town area of Karachi over his refusal to pay extortion money.

In a statement on Saturday, he said that the terrorists had no regard even for the sanctity of educational institutions and the masse should raise their voice against the wicked attack. He prayed for the speedy recovery of the wounded students and for the divine blessings on the soul of the deceased principal.

Hussain appealed President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minster Mir Hazar Khan Khoso to take serious notice of the attack on the school adding to arrest the culprits on immediate basis.

Meanwhile, Awami National Party has strongly condemned the killing of school principal Abdul Rasheed and asked the Chief Justice to take notice of the attack on the Nation School in Baldia Town Karachi.

In a joint statement on Saturday Senator Shahi Syed said that slain Abul Rasheed spent his life serving humanity and education, and was reportedly receiving threats over not paying extortion.

Syed should deep concern and said that culprits involved in the attack targeting the student and teacher were inhuman.

He said that during the attack ANP leader Fazal Wajid including six students were serious injured. He added that Abdul Rasheed was also the covering candidate of ANP’s candidate Saifullah Afridi on provincial seat PS-90.

He demanded the DG Rangers, IG Sindh to take notice of the terrorist attack in Baldia Town School.