Friday August 12, 2022

ECP wants Rangers deployed for Punjab by-polls

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja has written a letter to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah seeking Rangers' deployment

By Our Correspondent
July 01, 2022
In this 2015 file photo Rangers personnel checking identification documents of polling agents at a polling station in Karachi. -Online
In this 2015 file photo Rangers personnel checking identification documents of polling agents at a polling station in Karachi. -Online

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought enhanced deployment of Rangers for upcoming by-polls to 20 provincial assembly seats of Punjab, citing multiple factors, including militant wings.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja’s signatures are on the letter, written to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah wherein the electoral body has also asked for deployment of Rangers inside polling stations in five sensitive constituencies in Punjab and NA-245, Karachi.

The commission points out certain political leaders are raising the emotions of their supporters and notes that in such a situation police would not be only able to provide environment conducive to conduct elections in a free, fair and peaceful manner.

The commission notes that the present atmosphere in the 20 constituencies (Punjab Assembly), where by-elections are scheduled July 27, is politically charged. It also refers to its experience with recently conducted by-election of NA-240 Korangi-II and Sindh Local Government Elections Phase-I where police alone were unable to control the scale of violence due to restrictions with their numbers.

Most of the times, it notes, these numerical inadequacies coupled with lack of proper training and resources prohibit timely action, thus resulting in violence spiraling out of control. It says: “The political narrative from many sides has vitiated the atmosphere considerably causing increased polarization, thus highly placing the incoming election at a risk premium. The presence of militant elements in certain parties has increased this risk manifold.”

It said during Sindh phase-1 local government elections, an effective deterrent was provided by Rangers when they got involved in polling stations where violence flared up, although at times the reaction time was longer then would have been required to curtail a flare-up of the situation.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), it notes, is an independent constitutional entity and as per Article 218(3) is entrusted with the duty of organising and conducting election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law and that corrupt practices are guarded against.

It says that under Article 220 it shall be the duty of all executive authorities in the federation and in the provinces to assist the EC in the discharge of their functions. As conduct of peaceful election is a sine-qua-non of ECP's function and provision of adequate security is the function of the federal and provincial governments, therefore, it is imperative this provision be made sufficiently to ensure free, peaceful and transparent elections.

The commission says in the letter, “keeping in view the law and order situation of the areas/constituencies, it is reiterated that the Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) / Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) be deployed, in static mode in sensitive four constituencies of Lahore and one each in Multan and NA-245 Karachi and enhanced QRF for other 15 constituencies in Punjab, so that the by-elections in the constituencies could be conducted peacefully, fairly and to guard against any untoward situation.”