The federal government has authorised the deployment of civil armed forces and the Pakistan Army for the provision of general security to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the peaceful conduct of the April 21 by-elections, it emerged on Saturday.

The poll campaign for by-elections in around two dozen National and provincial assembly constituencies came to a close on Friday as all is set for the first major by-poll exercise after the 2024 general elections on April 21

According to the commission, by-elections will be held for five vacant seats of the National Assembly; 12 of the Punjab Assembly, two each of the Khyber-Pakh­tunkhwa and Balochistan legislatures as well as one of the Sindh Assembly. In addition, re-polling in all constituencies of PB-50 (Killa Abdullah) will also take place on the same day.

An order from the interior ministry dated April 19 said the federal government had approved the ECP’s April 3 request and authorised the deployment of a “sufficient strength” of the civil armed forces and the army — the latter only as a standby or quick reaction force — from April 20-22 as second/third tier responders to provide general security.

“The exact number of troops, date and area of deployment will be worked out by the ECP in consultation with all concerned stakeholders,” the order said.

It added that the forces would be deployed in the following areas of the National Assembly: NA-8 Bajaur, NA-44 Dera Ismail Khan-I, NA-119 Lahore-III, NA-132 Kasur-II and NA-196 Kamber-Shahdadkot-I.

In the provincial assemblies, it said the forces would deployed at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s PK-22 Bajaur-IV and PK-91 Kohat-II; Balochistan’s PB-20 Khuzdar-III, PB-22 Lasbela and Punjab’s PP-22 Chakwal-Cum-Talagang, PP-32 Gujrat-VI, PP-36 Wazirabad-II, PP-54 Narowal-I, PP-93 Bhakkar-V, PP-139 Sheikhupura-IV, PP-147 Lahore-III, PP-149 Lahore-V, PP-158 Lahore-XIV, PP-164 Lahore - XX, PP-266 Rahim Yar Khan-XII and PP-290 D.G. Khan-V.

The order said the date of de-requisitioning the deployments will be decided after mutual consultation among all stakeholders.

A day ago, the Punjab Police finalised a security plan for the by-elections. Punjab Inspector General of Police Dr Usman Anwar had said that more than 35,000 officers would be deployed for the security of the by-polls.

Out of 2,599 polling stations, 419 were declared highly sensitive while 1,081 were declared sensitive.

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