ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army has turned down a request for static deployment of troops outside the polling stations during the local government polls scheduled to be held in Karachi and Hyderabad on Jan 15.
Through a letter, the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday informed the Election Commission of Pakistan that the ECP’s request seeking additional deployment of Army and Rangers outside the polling stations had been taken up with the military operations directorate, General Headquarters (GHQ).
“In response, MO Dte (military operations directorate), GHQ has stated that Provincial Home Departments are responsible for providing requisite troops / police component for 1st tier response / static deployment at Polling Stations while Civil Armed Forces (CAFs) and Pakistan Army can only provide Quick Reaction Forces (QRFs) for 2nd and 3rd tier response, respectively,” read the ministry’s letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.
ECP has categorised all 8,924 polling stations for the upcoming LG polls as either sensitive or most sensitive.
“Further, existing commitments of troops with respect to border duties and other internal security deployment across Pakistan, required deployment of over 20,000 troops of Army / Rangers on static role duties outside 2,395 most sensitive polling stations and deployment for protection of polling material / staff cannot be made,” according to the communication.
GHQ says home department required to provide security for first-tier response
However, the required “Rangers and Army troops will be made available under Article 220 of Constitution as 2nd and 3rd tier responders respectively in QRF Mode / standby role as already notified by Ministry of Interior on 29-12-2022”.
On Monday, the ECP had sought additional deployment of Pakistan Army and Rangers during the LG elections.
In a letter to the Interior Ministry, the ECP had said that deployment of Pakistan Army and Rangers was necessary for peaceful conduct of elections. The troops’ deployment has been sought for sensitive polling stations.
“Even commissioners, DROs and candidates have asked for deployment of Rangers at polling stations as there are concerns of violence and clashes between political rivals on election day,” the letter said.
The ECP also wrote a letter to the Inspector General of Sindh Police to ensure fool-proof security during the elections.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2023