Pakistan court orders army to check Karachi voters
Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Election Commission to verify controversial electoral rolls in the country's largest city of Karachi with the help of the army and paramilitary forces to weed out fake voters before the general election scheduled for next year.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said in its order that "it is clear that the electoral rolls of the city of Karachi are required to be revised by the Election Commission".
"In view of the peculiar security situation in Karachi.. . Such verification must be carried out by the Election Commission with the help and assistance of Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps," the ruling said.
The Election Commission should carry out "proper and complete door-to-door verification" to ensure that no voter in Karachi is disenfranchised or dislocated and "all other discrepancies are rectified as early as possible".
Karachi, Pakistan's commercial capital has been racked by several waves of political, ethnic and sectarian violence over the past few years.
The apex court issued its order in response to several petitions that alleged there were widespread errors and irregularities in Karachi's electoral rolls.
The bench said Karachi's voter lists "do not inspire confidence" and warned that the possibility a significant number of people may have been "disenfranchised" could not be ignored.
It noted that the petitioners had pointed out "gross errors and irregularities" in the preparation of electoral rolls and alleged that approximately half of the city's six million voters had had their registration moved to other parts of Pakistan.
The petitioners further complained that "unverified" voters had been added to the rolls and this was "likely to lead to rigging' in the upcoming general election.
Speaking hours after the apex court issued its ruling, Chief Election Commissioner Fakhuruddin G Ibrahim said the Election Commission was ready to conduct door-to-door verification of voter lists in Karachi with the help of the army.
Ibrahim told reporters that a meeting of the Election Commission had been convened on Friday and it would move forward with any step that helps improve the electoral process.