Cabinet's approval sought for army's deployment during Feb 8 polls

Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai
A soldier carries supplies to be delivered to a polling station from the election commission office in Lahore, on September 16, 2017. — Reuters
A soldier carries supplies to be delivered to a polling station from the election commission office in Lahore, on September 16, 2017. — Reuters
  • ECP asks for 277,000 army personnel for security for Feb 8 polls.
  • Army, Rangers and FC soldiers expected to perform election duties.
  • Armed forces' role sought due to shortage of security personnel.

ISLAMABAD: With the February 8 elections drawing near, the Ministry of Interior Tuesday remitted its summary regarding the deployment of the armed forces during the upcoming polls.

The development comes after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sought 277,000 army personnel to be deployed across the country to maintain security, and law and order situation across the country whose 126 million voters will choose their representatives next month.

With the year 2023 culminating as one of the worst, since 2015, in terms of terror-related incidents, the country's upcoming polls are surrounded by doubts over the security and safety of both candidates and voters.

Despite several violent incidents, and attacks on candidates, political parties have been continuing their electioneering efforts to woo voters, however, several politicians have voiced concerns over the law and order situation — with some even moving the Senate seeking poll delay in this regard.

Earlier this month, an independent candidate, Kaleemullah Khan — who was eyeing to contest polls for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly's PK-104 — was shot dead in North Waziristan.

Hours later, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Shah Khalid was also killed in Swabi after unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle opened fire on his car.

Additionally, several other leaders including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) Aslam Buledi, National Democratic Movement's (NDM) Mohsin Dawar and National Party's Lala Abdul Rasheed, and Senator Kohda Akram Dashti have also come under attack in the ongoing month.

Owing to the precarious situation, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has formed a high-level committee to oversee security for the polls.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army has also vowed to provide necessary military assistance for the upcoming general elections.

It is pertinent to mention, that Pakistan Army soldiers along with Rangers and Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel will perform election duties following the Interior Ministry's summary's approval by the caretaker federal cabinet.

Earlier, authorities decided to seek the army's help on polls due to an acute shortage of security personnel.

Punjab, the country's election battleground, faces a shortage of 92,000 security personnel at polling stations.

Meanwhile, Karachi Police is facing a shortage of 14,300 security personnel including female cops.