Army to stay at bay from upcoming elections

Army to stay at bay from upcoming elections

Nation’s Military Prefers Not To Provide Protection

The nation’s military prefers not to provide protection for upcoming voting procedures, in contrast to the 2018 general elections. While their personnel will not be stationed inside voting stations, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has been informed that they will be available as a “quick reaction force” (QRF) if the need arises during the election campaign. 

This information was made public by ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan in a meeting discussing the upcoming by-election in Karachi’s NA-245, which is now vacant following the passing of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MNA Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain. 

Development Of Army Forces For Security

He stated, “Recently, the ECP chairman wrote to the army chief requesting deployment of army forces for security [of the polling process].” 

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“However, the military now has a policy that says they should avoid voting locations. We are unable to comment on it. But we fervently hope that there will be more than just QRF and flag marches. The Army Chief received the letter for this reason. 

Impending Local Government Elections

Mr. Khan was certain that the impending local government elections in Sindh and by-elections across the nation would probably be held under similar rules, but he declined to speculate on how long-lasting the policy would prove to be. 

The ECP secretary made it clear that no troops will be stationed at polling places for the next local body elections in Sindh or the intermittent by-elections in various regions of the nation, though the paramilitary Rangers force would “remain close to the polling places.” 

An ECP official who was reached upon confirmation that the armed forces had chosen to position themselves as the third layer of security for protective measures during previous elections—both the by-elections and the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—in recent months. The Pakistan Rangers and the Frontier Constabulary, two paramilitary organisations, supported the police authority in their first and second-tier roles. 

Harsh Criticism From The Majority Of Political Parties & Human Rights Organization

In an unprecedented action that drew harsh criticism from the majority of political parties and human rights organisations, the ECP had awarded the armed forces wide judicial powers at voting places for the 2018 elections. Around 371,000 troops were deployed across the country at the time to oversee security measures, roughly three times the number deployed for the 2013 elections. 

A day after asking the armed forces for help in conducting by-elections in several national and provincial assembly constituencies in Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as both phases of the local government elections in Sindh, the ECP secretary expressed his opinions.

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