Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani called upon officials on Tuesday to enforce the comprehensive plan drawn up to maintain law and order during the May 11 polls. Gen Kayani is currently touring Karachi to review security arrangements for the elections.
Some 10,000 troops have already been stationed around the financial hub as part of the plan, according to ISPR Director General Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa. Another 20, 000 soldiers have been deployed across Sindh to maintain law and order.
Chairing a high-level meeting at the Corps Headquarters, the COAS instructed the concerned departments to implement the comprehensive plan, in true spirit during the polls.
The meeting was attended by Sindh chief secretary, home secretary, Rangers’ director general, senior police officials and heads of other security agencies.
Asked when the army men would return to the barracks after the elections, the director general stated that he could not give an exact timeframe for their return. “It all depends on the law and order situation after the election,” Bajwa said.
As per the election commission’s decision, Bajwa pointed out, the armed forces would not be stationed at polling stations instead they would work as a ‘quick response force’ and would patrol around in the sensitive areas of the city.
According to the contingency plan, 124,000 personnel of different intelligence agencies would perform their duties across Sindh. Some 40,000 security personnel will be deployed in Karachi alone which will include 10,000 troops which will not be stationed in polling stations but will be available as the ‘quick response force’. Helicopters will be provided to the soldiers so they can maintain air vigilance.
In addition, Bajwa said, the army has completed the transportation of ballot papers across Balochistan while transportation of ballot papers throughout Pakistan would be completed within two day.
Separately, all provincial governments have been directed to further enhance security of all the polling stations.
The number of security personnel to be deployed at the polling stations was the discretion of the respective government keeping in the view security situation in a particular area, said an official of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). However, the ECP in its plan has suggested that 10 personnel instead of nine would be deployed at the most sensitive polling stations whereas nine instead of eight security personnel will be deployed for the polling stations declared sensitive.
Polling suspended in NA-254
In a related development, the ECP secretary was informed that following the death of poll candidate Sadiq Zaman Khattaq (NA-254 Karachi-XVI) the returning officer concerned has terminated the proceedings relating to election to that constituency by issuing public notice in terms of section 18 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2013.