ISLAMABAD: The Pak­is­tan Peoples Party (PPP) has opposed the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to deploy troops in and outside the polling stations for the PS-11 (Larkana) by-election scheduled for Oct 17.

PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar in a letter written to the chief election commissioner on Tuesday said according to a notification, dated Oct 8, army officers including JCOs would not only have magisterial powers for the entire duration of the deployment but would also have additional powers to override presiding officers on the presumption that the civilian presiding officer had failed to act on any complaint of unspecified irregularity or malpractice.

“Further, the troops will be deployed under Article 245 of the Constitution, thus, effectively crossing the jurisdiction of the courts against any act of omission or commission by the troops,” stated the letter whose copy is available with Dawn.

Troops wearing intimidating gear may affect holding of free, fair election, ECP told

The former senator said the PPP believed that the presence of troops wearing intimidating gear inside the polling stations and armed with magisterial powers militates against the holding of free and fair elections, a constitutional responsibility of the ECP.

“The party is opposed to the deployment of troops inside the polling stations anytime and anywhere,” he remarked.

Expressing the party’s deep concern over the decision, Mr Babar requested the ECP to reconsider the decision to deploy troops inside the polling stations in the constituency of Sindh Assembly in the interest of free and fair elections.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019