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RAWALPINDI: Pakistan military spokesperson Maj. Gen Asif Ghafoor says the military will be involved in the election entirely in a support role and act on orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan to help them in terms of security.”
“The army has no direct role in holding elections and will only support the electoral process.”
Addressing an important press conference in connection to election security plan, Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major-General Asif Ghafoor said the army had been given election-related six responsibilities under Article 220 and 245 of the Constitution.
Underlining army’s role, he said it was not the first time that troops would be deployed to supervise the election process. “The armed forces have rendered services during previous elections as well,” he maintained.
He reiterated that the army only had to transport the ballot papers in a secure manner and would not be involved in anything else.”
It is our responsibility to let voters have sense of security so they could exercise their right to ballot in the elections, he added.
He asked voters to come out in large numbers and chose their representatives, adding no one would stop them from their voting right.
DG ISPR said it was responsibility to help the ECP without being partial.
He also requested journalists to avoid approaching soldiers deployed at polling stations for security.
DG ISPR said the election support cell had been set up in Rawalpindi under a 3-star general to coordinate election duties with the Election Commission of Pakistan.
“In 2002, to protect 64,000 polling stations, 30,500 troops were deployed. In 2008, 39,000 troops were deployed. The number was low because the condition of the country was poor, forces were in operations and a leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) was killed as well,” Ghafoor added.The DG also added that in every press conference, he’s asked whether the elections will happen, he further informed that all ‘forces’ that wanted to postpone elections have slowly withered away. “Pakistan is heading towards elections. Removing the 2002 polls, because a uniformed man intervened, but otherwise consistent polls have been taking place.”
The role of the Army
The army’s role is only to facilitate the ECP. “Support them in all tasks in which they’ve asked for help. The code of conduct has nothing to do with the army, it is the ECP’s job to ensure conduct is followed. We will only be supporting, this has to be clear,” Ghafoor added.
“We are not intervening to conduct the elections, only to facilitate them. Elections need to be conducted without fear of terrorism or attack. We need to ensure that an atmosphere is helpful for jalsas to be conducted,” he further added.
He further went on to say that ECP’s code of conduct needs to be absolutely implemented.