Elections in Tribal Areas: Should Army be deployed on the polling day?

The ECP has decided that Pakistan Army will make all arrangements for ensuring peaceful elections on sixteen seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to be held next month. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questions the presence of the army and raises eyebrows at whether the army is the best way to ensure transparency.

Elections

News Analysis |

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has opposed the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of deploying Pakistan army on the polling day in tribal districts. The PPP chairman made it clear that do not make the elections controversial by including the armed forces.

Bilawal warned the ECP not to let the elections be rigged as it allegedly happened during the general elections in 2018. PPP and PML-N had reservations about the results of the last general elections but both were not at the same page since the former decided to assume the office in Sindh.

Pakistan Army to Ensure Peaceful Elections

The ECP has issued a notification which reads that Pakistan Army will make all arrangements for holding peaceful elections on sixteen seats of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to be held next month. It also said that the keep into consideration the ongoing security dynamics in the region, it is important to handover security to armed forces. “Pakistan Armed Forces/Civil Armed Forces shall be deployed inside and outside all the polling stations from July 18 to July 21 for provision of secure environment to assist ECP in conduct of election in free, fair and transparent manner,” the notification reads.

In the present case, as ISPR has already highlighted, the security dynamics in the region are not stable and any attempt to political development or stabilization is likely to be sabotaged by the enemy of peace in the country.

The elections in newly merged districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were postponed after the provincial government wrote a letter and suggested to give some more time to security agencies in order to make a conducive environment for the polling day. Those six points included:

  1. Threats of terrorist activities from across the border/neighboring Afghanistan with newly merged districts in the wake of elections.
  2. Threats to political leadership of NMDx.
  3. Post-merger issue of ex-FATA into the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
  4. Fresh development in North Waziristan district.
  5. Change of command of Levies and Khassadars from DCs to DPOs.
  6. Levies and Khassadars have not yet trained to perform security duties in the absence of territorial and tribal responsibility.”
Who Better to Keep Order than the Army?

Law and order situation deteriorated in Waziristan after a charged mob led by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Mohsin Dawar attacked an army check post and killed one soldier. A few days ago, three officers and one soldiers embraced martyrdom in a blast. The martyred officers have been identified as Lt Col Raashid Karim Baig, who was a resident of Hunza’s Karimabad, Major Moeez Maqsood Baig, who belonged to Karachi, Captain Arifullah, a resident of Lakki Marwat, and Lance Havaldar Zaheer, who hails from Chakwal.

Read more: PTM want army to leave Waziristan: Terrorists or Rights’ movement?

According to the ISPR, 10 security forces personnel have been martyred while 35 have been injured in the area in the last one month.

Political commentators and security analysts believe that to hold a free and fair elections it is pivotal to have a conducive environment which is peaceful and stable. In the present case, as ISPR has already highlighted, the security dynamics in the region are not stable and any attempt to political development or stabilization is likely to be sabotaged by the enemy of peace in the country. Bilawal’s statement are reflective of his recent populist political rhetoric whereby he is taking tough at security agencies and proving himself to be a proponent and guard of civilian supremacy.

In past few months, Bilawal and Maryam Nawaz have emerged as anti-establishment and pro-democracy young leaders. But Dr. Moeed Pirzada in his primetime show on 92 channel has made it clear several time that these two persons are representatives of two dynasties which have looted the wealth from Pakistan and exploited the people to their maximum. “It will be foolish to expect from them any move from here to democracy,” he once remarked.

Read more: KPK government advises ECP to postpone elections in merged tribal districts

Moreover, it appears to be misleading, and politically premature, that without considering all local and regional dynamics the PPP has decided to oppose the deployment of army personnel which is the requirement to ensure peace and order.

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