No direct role of army in July 25 polls: DG ISPR

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Forces to assist ECP within bounds of given mandate: Gen Bajwa

Zahid Chaudhary

Islamabad

Pakistan Army is engaged in improving overall law and order situation in the run up to the general elections on the instructions of Election Commission of Pakistan. DG ISPR Major General Abdul Ghafoor informed Senate Committee on Thursday that the troops have no direct role in the elections rather the troops are liable to follow the electoral body’s code of conduct.
He said, Army does not have any link with the elections. We are only working on the directions of the ECP to improve the law and order situation. We do not have a direct role in polls.”
He said the armed forces have always lent support to civil institutions. The security situation is being improved in the entire country on the eve of elections.
“Three hundred and seventy one thousand army soldiers will be deployed at the countrywide polling stations.”
Major General Ghafoor, however, made it clear that the army’s role in providing security for elections did not mean that it would also take direct responsibility for the well being of politicians. “The army is not taking direct responsibility for the security of any politician,” he said. “We are assisting the election commission for security during polling,” he added.
“Until the police’s abilities improve, we will also have to do police duty,” he said.
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob also briefed the Senate body over the army’s electoral duties among other things.
“A total of 800,000 security officials and 700,000 ECP staff will perform their duties,” he said. “Bearing in mind the events of 2013, the ECP took the decision to deploy army. We are grateful to the army. Their officers are also being trained. The army’s help was also obtained to keep a watch on ballot papers.” “The army personnel will work under the presiding officer at polling stations.”
Also on Thursday Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa visited the Elections Support Center set up in Rawalpindi where he stated in categorical terms that the army shall assist ECP strictly within the bounds of given mandate and as per the ECP code of conduct.
The Army chief directed that all efforts be put in to ensure secure and safe environment enabling people of Pakistan to freely exercise their democratic right.
Meanwhile, the top leadership of all political parties in Pakistan is facing threat, said Dr Suleman, chief of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA).
Briefing the Senate’s Standing Committee on Interior, NACTA Chief said, “Leadership of all political parties is facing threat. We have received 65 threat alerts most from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.”
Banned Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Daesh have also issued threats, the NACTA chief informed the committee, adding that they have also recorded threat alert from MQM London. The list of political leaders facing threat would be shared with the Standing Committee, Dr Suleman said and added that every time some militant groups become active against election process.
Dr Suleman advised intelligence agencies to launch combing operations.

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