Army not available for poll duties, ECP told

Defence ministry officials say army deployed at borders amid worsening law, order situation, ongoing population census

ISLAMABAD    -    Since the country’s politics is revolving around conducting polls in Punjab and KP provinces, the top electoral body was yesterday clearly conveyed that the army will not be available for the upcoming elections due to the prevalent security situation in the country and on the borders.
The Election Commission of Pakistan [ECP], in a meeting with concerned departments to finalize a future course of action regarding the polls, got a clear indication regarding conducting the elections.
The commission, in three back-to-back meetings, to discuss different perspectives of conducting elections was thoroughly briefed about the deployments of the army for population census, Ramazan and other border areas.
The third session of the meeting about the polls in Punjab and KP was chaired by CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja wherein De­fence Secretary Lt Gen (R) Hamood Uz Zaman Khan and Additional Defence Sec­retary Maj Gen Khurram Sarfaraz Khan briefed the body about the current situ­ation of the country.

The electoral watchdog was briefed about the country’s worsening law and order situation over the past few months. The law and order situation with terror­ist groups executing attacks across the country was conveyed to the commission.

Defence Secretary Lt Gen (R) Hamood Uz Zaman Khan and Additional Defence Secretary Maj Gen Khurram Sarfaraz, in their briefing, shared the deployment of the army inside the country and borders. They said that the army attaches impor­tance to its basic duties, in which the se­curity of the borders and the country is its first priority. The defence ministry of­ficials said that the current economic sit­uation of the country was also affecting the army. They said that the army will not be available for the upcoming polls due to the prevalent security situation within the country and on the borders.

However, they said that in the end it would be the government’s decision whether it kept the military restricted to its primary duties or appointed it for sec­ondary tasks such as election-related du­ties. They further said that in case of elec­tion duty, the army can be deployed in quick reaction force mode but it is not pos­sible to perform duty in static mode,” the press release reads. In another CEC meet­ing, the IG Punjab explained that the police has been performing its duties for the secu­rity of population census staff. The securi­ty would also be enhanced during the holy month of Ramazan to avoid any untoward situation. It should be noted here that on the orders of the Supreme Court, the polls for the Punjab Assembly elections will be held on April 30. KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali has also announced May 28 as the date for elections in the province following a meet­ing with the ECP and President Dr Arif Alvi.

Meanwhile, the ECP also extended the deadline for filing of nomination papers till March 16 to facilitate candidates vying for general elections to the Punjab Assembly.

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