KARACHI: The Sindh government has requested the Headquarters Five Corps of the armed forces to ensure the security arrangements for the PS-94 by-poll elections that are to be held on October 17, Sunday, in Orangi Town.
Looking at the sensitivity of the area, the presence of troops may be necessary, along with police and Rangers personnel, to thwart any untoward incident, Sindh Home Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan stated in a letter issued on Thursday.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Special Home Secretary Ghufran Memon said that the Sindh government had earlier decided to deploy the police and Rangers in the area. However, during a high-level meeting held under the supervision of chief election commissioner Justice (retired) Hamid Mirza on Wednesday, it was decided to call upon the armed forces to handle the matter.
“The chief election commissioner had said they will also request the general headquarters to send troops,” he said.
He said that the government has devised a security plan, in which sensitive areas have been identified. “They are not big areas. However, in case of an emergency, the army should be alerted,” he said.
He said that commandos and intelligence personnel will be deployed in these areas, along with the police and Rangers. Meanwhile, entry and exit points to these areas are being monitored.
‘ANP will boycott elections without army deployment’
If the upcoming PS-94 by-elections are not held under the supervision of the Pakistan Army, the Awami National Party (ANP) will boycott them, said ANP Sindh chapter president Shahi Syed. The authorities must hand over the security of polling stations in Orangi Town to the army, he said at a press conference in Mardan House on Thursday.
“The army should be given full powers and should have the right to take any action in case of disturbances,” he demanded, adding that the police and Rangers do not have the full authority to take actions.
“We do not want to shed the blood of innocent people on the day of elections and if the army is not deployed, we would prefer to boycott the elections instead of going for an all-out fight,” he said, fearing that there will be targeted killings during the elections.
The “tappa mafia” will be defeated this time and no one will have the courage to rig the elections with the army present, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2010.
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