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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army will extend all possible support for the conduct of upcoming general election in a peaceful and orderly manner.
“We have assured the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that we will provide all possible support for security,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) chief, Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa.
He said the ECP had held a meeting with concerned army officials while another session would be arranged shortly. “They will come back after unfolding of the election schedule.”
Bajwa said the ECP would let the army know which polling booths were sensitive or highly sensitive requiring special security precautions so that the electorate could exercise their right in a peaceful manner.
It would then be decided about the deployment of troops all over Pakistan, he said. “After that, it will be easy for the army to chalk out a security plan.”
He said that if desired by the ECP, army personnel would be detailed to provide security for transportation of ballots to different areas.
Bajwa said it was premature to make an estimate about the number of troops to be finally allocated for security duty. The picture will become clearer only after a requisition was received from the ECP.
However, the army would make available as many troops as would be needed for security, he said.
The ISPR chief said that the army, in coordination with police and law enforcement agencies, would prepare the overall security plan for the polls.
The military will be called in aid of civil power as per the constitution, Bajwa said adding that it would be a challenging task in some areas of the country in view of the present security environment.
Apart from what the ISPR chief said, it is generally believed that extra security measures would be required to be put in place in some parts of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the Punjab and Karachi.
Maintaining law and order and providing a peaceful atmosphere to voters in these pockets would be of main concern of the enforcement agencies.
As it appears there is a lot of mayhem in certain portions of Balochistan, where holding of elections itself would be a great task for the ECP as well as enforcement agencies. A similar situation exists in some areas of the tribal pockets and the KP.
As far as the Karachi city is concerned, there have always been widespread complaints about ballot stuffing and forcing voters at gunpoint. Given this scenario, the responsibility of the enforcement agencies would tremendously increase. It would be a different story whether or not they would be able to check the manipulation.