Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretary Omar Hamid Khan has said that the military wants to distance itself from the upcoming by-elections, and will let the police and paramilitary forces take charge of security.
He made this statement while talking to journalists after having chaired a meeting regarding the up-coming elections in Karachi’s NA-245, which was previously occupied by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) MNA Aamir Liaquat Hussain, and has fell vacant since his death, according to a report by Dawn.
He said that the ECP chief had on Monday sent a letter to the army chief seeking deployment of army troops for security during the electoral process. ““However, it’s now a policy of the armed forces that they want to stay away from the polling stations. We can’t comment over that,” he added.
Hamid Khan said that it was the ECP’s ‘utmost desire’ that the army’s involvement in the electoral process should exceed just flag marches and the availability of a ‘quick reaction force’ (QRF) in case of emergency, adding that this is why the letter was sent.
He also said he was certain that the upcoming local government elections in Sindh and by-polls across the country would likely be subject to similar rules and policies.
In the letter, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has said that in light of the extreme political polarization in the country, deployment outside polling stations would be required for by-polls in four Punjab Assembly constituencies of Lahore (PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170), one KP assembly seat (PK-7), and one National Assembly constituency in Sindh (NA-245).
According to an ECP official, the military had chosen to act as the third tier of security for protective arrangements during recent elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Police authorities, backed by the paramilitary forces — Pakistan Rangers and the Frontier Constabulary — performed duties as the first and second tier.