Pak Army, EC to Hold Meet Ahead of General Elections

Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
Pak Army, EC to Hold Meet Ahead of General Elections
Pakistan Army and the Election Commission will hold a meeting soon to decide on deploying troops for holding the upcoming general election in May in a peaceful and orderly manner.

"We have assured the Election Commission of Pakistan that we will provide all possible support for security," said Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the head of the Inter-Services Public Relations.

The Election Commission has held a meeting with army officials and another meeting would be arranged shortly to discuss the deployment of troops for security duties.

The poll panel will let the army know which polling stations are "sensitive" or "highly sensitive" and require special security arrangements so that voters can exercise their rights in a peaceful manner, Bajwa told The News daily.

"After that, it will be easy for the army to chalk out the needed security plan," he said.

If desired by the Election Commission, soldiers will be detailed to provide security for transporting ballot papers to different areas, he said.

Bajwa said it would be premature to make an estimate about the number of soldiers who would be deployed for security duties. The picture will become clearer after a requisition is received from the poll panel.

The army will make available as many troops as would be needed for security, he said. The army, in coordination with police and law enforcement agencies, will prepare the overall security plan for the polls. The military will be called "in aid of civil power" in line with the Constitution.

Bajwa said it would be a "challenging task" in some areas of the country in view of the current security environment.

Analysts believe the security situation in parts of Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces and the financial hub of Karachi will provide challenges to the Election Commission.

The government is set to complete its five-year term on March 16 and polls are expected to be held sometime in May.
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