ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army said on Tuesday that over 370000 troops and other security personnel will be deployed for the security of the July 25 parliamentary elections.
The military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told reporters that the army will not have any role of conducting the elections but will only provide security to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
Elections for the National Assembly, lower house of the parliament and four provincial assemblies will be held on July 25.
Personnel from the air force, navy, recently retired officers and reserved troops will be among the part of a total of 371388 security personnel, who will perform duties on election day, the military spokesman said.
He said the ECP had sought the support of the armed forces for the security of the polls and that the army will perform the duties but have no direct role in the conduct of the polls.
“The army has no political party and has no political role. The Election Commission of Pakistan will conduct the elections and the army will have only the role of security,” the spokesman said at a press conference.
He said a monitoring cell will also be established the army’s information wing Inter-Services Public Relations for coordination with the military officers and other institutions.
“All voters will be safe and they will cost vote in a free atmosphere,” General Ghafoor said, adding that soldiers will be deployed outside and inside the polling stations.
He informed the media that troops have also been deployed at the three state-owned printing presses in the capital Islamabad and the port city of Karachi where printing of the ballot papers is underway.
“Printing of the ballot papers started on June 27 will complete on July 21,” the military spokesman said.
He said troops will also provide security for the transportation of the election materials to the polling stations but will never take over control of the materials. Soldiers will also accompany transportation of the ballot boxes after the polling is over on July 25, he added.
He said an Army Action Support Cell has been established to execute the military’s security plans in coordination with the ECP. The army has also issued a code of conduct for its staffers.”
He said the army will not intervene in the election process but will only indicate to the ECP if the troops find any mismanagement.
When asked about permission to several banned groups, which are taking part in the elections, he said it is the prerogative of the ECP to register political parties if they meet all the requirements under the rules and the army has no role in such affairs.
The army will accept whoever is elected prime minister after the elections, the spokesman said.
To a question about the remarks about army officers by Captain (Retd) Safdar, he said the army will apply its rules after Safdar completes his jail term.
He dispelled the impression about the army or ISI involvement in the election affairs and said ISI was not involved in the incident with a candidate in Multan. He said the candidate had been facing the problem with the agriculture department for one year.
Th ISPR DG said this is not the first time when the army performs election duties but the same role has been played in previous elections. He said the 2013 elections were difficult in view of terrorism. He however said the 2018 elections will take place in a peaceful environment.
He said the allegations of the rigging are not new but such accusations had been levelled in previous elections.
About the symbol of jeep, he said the ECP allots the symbol and the jeep shown in the election symbols is not the army’s jeep. – NNI