ECP seeks military’s help to ensure ‘law and order’ during Feb 8 polls

Election organising authority wants interior ministry’s reply before Dec 7

December 04, 2023
Returning office staff packing election material during handing over to authorities concerned at a session court under the supervision of the Pakistan Army in this undated image. — APP

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to ensure the law and order situation during the general polls — scheduled for February 8 next year — the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Monday sought the help of the Pakistan Army.

In the lead-up to the polls, all political parties have geared up for a face-off, while the ECP has notified the final list of delimitation of constituencies of the national and four provincial assemblies.

The electoral watchdog is also expected to announce the election schedule, later this month — 54 days before the polls in line with the law.

During the elections, the security situation is a grave concern for the authorities concerned and to ensure that nothing goes south, law enforcers are deployed at polling stations and they are also on patrol.

The shortfall of police personnel. — ECP

“While the ECP takes all necessary steps to organise an election, [...] it also expects the same commitment from the executive authorities and law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order in the area of the constituencies during the conduct of elections,” the ECP’s letter to the interior ministry read.

In its bid to prepare for the elections, the ECP had sought a report from all inspector generals of police to determine the availability of police personnel for the polls.

Responding to the ECP’s request, IGPs from all the provinces and the capital said that they did not have enough personnel. Around 4,500 were short in Islamabad, 169,110 Punjab, 56,717 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 33,462 Sindh, and 13,769 in Balochistan — totalling 277,588.

ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan, in the letter to Ministry of Interior Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani, said that keeping in view, the deficiency of police personnel, the services of the Pakistan Army and civil armed forces (CAFs) shall have to be “requisitioned in static mode”.

The letter mentioned that the armed forces need to be deployed at polling stations to ensure “smooth elections” in light of the country’s “fragile security cum law and order situation”.

The ECP secretary told his interior ministry counterpart that his office should inform the election commission about the availability of the army and CAFs before December 7, seeking the ministry’s support in “the national cause”.