Security apparatus in Sindh finalises plan to maintain peace during elections amid ‘high alert’

Published February 2, 2024
A policeman keeps a watchful eye on a city road on Thursday. —AFP
A policeman keeps a watchful eye on a city road on Thursday. —AFP

• All districts of Karachi declared ‘sensitive’
• Law enforcers to beef up security, increase snap checking
• Police asked to ensure coordination with other agencies

KARACHI: In view of escalating security threats ahead of the February 8 general elections, top officials of the provincial security and administrative apparatus assembled together on Thursday and reviewed the law and order situation in Sindh.

The inspector general of Sindh police, provincial election commissioner, additional IGP Karachi, special secretary of home department, secretary of services and general administration, commissioner of Karachi and senior police, Rangers and intelligence agencies officials attended the meeting.

The meeting chaired by Director General of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, Maj Gen Azhar Waqas was held at a time when several incidents of violence occurred in the province, including the death of a political worker in a clash in Karachi, which heightened fears regarding the upcoming polls.

“The meeting participants reviewed law and order situation in Karachi and particularly security arrangements for forthcoming general elections,” said a spokesperson in a statement.

The participants also took a detailed view of steps taken for ensuring security during the polls and approved a strategy to this effect.

Informed sources said that authorities declared all districts of Karachi ‘sensitive’ because of a ‘history of violence’ among the PPP, ANP, MQM and PML-N and potential threats to forthcoming general elections.

It was decided that both the paramilitary force and police would further strengthen snap-checking while security would be ensured on exit and entry points and flag march would be held.

The Rangers’ quick response force would be deployed.

The participants vowed that the code of conduct prepared by the Election Commission of Pakistan would be implemented and elements involved in its violation would be taken to task.

In another development related to security, Additional IGP Karachi Khadim Hussain Rind issued a ‘high security alert’ on Thursday in wake of bomb blasts in Balochistan and directed the police to stay alert.

He asked the police to ensure coordination with other law enforcers and take effective steps for patrolling, picketing, ‘hold-ups’ and random snap checking, etc, according to a statement issued here.

Officials said that five districts in the province — Khairpur, Sanghar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tando Allahyar — had been declared sensitive because of a history of violence between the PPP, GDA and MQM.

The sources said that out of 19,236 polling stations for total 191 seats of national and provincial assemblies (61 national and 130 provincial seats), 4,430 polling stations had been declared ‘highly sensitive’ and 8,020 ‘sensitive’.

A total of 6,776 polling stations will be treated as ‘normal’ across Sindh.

The top officials meeting came following multiple incidents in Karachi that involved clashes between workers of contesting parties, in which one activist had died as well.

First it was on January 21 when a PTI candidate from NA-248 Arsalan Khalid and other workers, who were busy in Quran khwani in Azizabad, came under an attack by armed men and were left with injuries.

The same day, a PPP election office in North Nazimabad came under an attack where the party workers had gathered for campaigning of their candidate Khawja Sohail Mansoor from NA-250.

Both — the PTI and PPP — have accused the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan of attacking their respective offices in a bid to stop their election activities in Karachi’s district Central. They lodged FIRs against alleged party workers. However, within a few days, violence returned to district Central with a deadly effect.

A clash between MQM-P and PPP workers in Nazimabad claimed the life of a senior MQM-P activist amid gunfire and arson attack. The killing of MQM-P’s Faraz Ahmed Qureshi, 40, triggered a violent protest as enraged people torched two vehicles, said to be owned by PPP activists.

Another PPP worker, identified as Rao M Talha, 22, was shot at and wounded.

Although the last Sunday’s rally of PTI in Clifton was not directly linked with any clash between the parties, it raised concerns over law and order after the Teen Talwar traffic intersection was turned into a battleground where police resorted to tear gas shelling and baton charged activists of PTI, who had converged there to take out an election rally.

While the police claimed that the party did not obtain a permission to organise the rally in the so-called ‘red zone’ of the metropolis, the PTI said it was being deprived of its constitutional right of electioneering while all other parties were holding rallies, public meetings in the metropolis freely.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2024


To find your constituency and location of your polling booth, SMS your NIC number (no spaces) to 8300. Once you know your constituency, visit the ECP website here for candidates.

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