The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked for the deployment of army at polling stations for the by-election PK-8, Peshawar-VIII Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly seat scheduled to be held on May 12.
The ECP K-P chapter sent a requisition to its head office in Islamabad on Thursday asking for army deployment at polling stations in the constituency to ensure free, fair, transparent and secure elections.
A senior official of ECP, requesting anonymity, told The Express Tribune Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Malik Tamash Khan and PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto approached ECP and submitted an application in this regard.
When contacted, Tamash confirmed the request of his party. “I wrote to Bilawal who then submitted an application to ECP requesting army deployment,” he added.
Tamash said parties in the government would try unfair means to win the seat and they wanted to discourage such moves by requesting army deployment.
“We want free and fair elections, and the Pakistan Army’s presence at polling stations is needed for it,” he added.
Joining the bandwagon
Candidates from other political parties are also pushing for army deployment to ensure security and transparency in the polling.
“Candidates from all major parties who are participating in the elections have approached us asking for army deployment,” the official said.
He added a requisition for army deployment, along with police, has been sent to ECP head office from where a letter requesting army deployment at polling stations for PK-8 elections will be sent to the Ministry of Defence.
The official further added they have asked for five army officials for each polling station along with 60 police personnel and five policewomen. “We would need 500 army personnel, along with the same number of women constables and around 6,000 policemen for the elections,” he said.
“We have also asked the army and police to jointly patrol the stations two days prior to the election day,” the official added. According to ECP, 98 polling stations are to be used in the elections and 675 polling staff will be needed to hold the elections.
The walls and streets of the constituency reveal preparations for elections have been in full swing.
A majority of the areas which fall in the constituency are dominated by Pukhtuns who live in villages in the suburbs of Peshawar. Nearly one fourth of the constituency includes people from Bajaur and Mohmand agencies who migrated from their hometowns.
The constituency comprises areas like Larama, Nasapa, Bakhshi Pull, Pajaggi, Haryana, Khazana, Takhtabad, Mamo Khattki, Gulbela, Jogani, Dag and Shagi Hinkian.
The ECP has warned three candidates from various political parties to stop violation of ECP code of conduct by putting up billboards larger than the size permitted by ECP.
It has asked all candidates to meet in the commission and cease code of conduct violation.
“We have asked them to remove and reduce the size of hoardings and billboards and make them in accordance with the ones ECP has approved, otherwise they will be confiscated,” an ECP official, who visited separate areas of the constituency to make sure code of conduct for the elections was not violated on Sunday, told The Express Tribune.
According to ECP, 18 candidates are contesting for the seat. This includes eight candidates contesting from the platforms of their political parties while 10 are contesting independently.
The seat was vacated when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz MPA Arbab Akbar Hayat Khan died of cardiac arrest on March 16 and the ECP announced by-elections for the seat will be held on May 12.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2016.