Islamabad: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) launched its training programme for over 600,000 today in preparation for the upcoming general elections. Over 360,000 polling staff will be trained in Punjab and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Training in the other provinces will be supported by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). The inaugural ceremony to mark this significant first step was presided over by Mr. Justice (retired) Riaz Kiyani, Honourable Member (Punjab), ECP.
The initial step of the training program includes training of lead trainers. Within a period of two months, 42 lead trainers will train 1,800 master trainers who will in turn train over 360,000 presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and polling officers in Punjab and the ICT. Polling staff are responsible for conducting polling at stations and will be trained using interactive methods with simulations. In an important initiative, presiding officers who are in charge of polling stations will receive additional training in exercising their magisterial powers in order to prevent disruption and fraud in polling stations.
Mr. Marc-André Franche, Country Director UNDP Pakistan, congratulated the Election Commission of Pakistan on the launch of the training and said, “Polling staff will play a critical role in safeguarding the credibility of the elections. It is essential that they are trained to carry out their responsibilities confidently and impartially. UNDP supports the Election Commission of Pakistan in improving the transparency and credibility of the electoral process and electoral institutions.”
UNDP is providing assistance to the Election Commission of Pakistan 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.
The event was attended by government officials, representatives of media, civil society, development partners and UN agencies.