News Analysis |
Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor has once again clarified that Pakistan Army has no direct role to play during the elections. DG ISPR was attending a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior when he clarified that the army personnel are only following the Election Commission of Pakistan’s instructions. “There were some rumors that army personnel had been issued ‘different’ orders — this is completely baseless,” he said.
“We do not have any link with the elections; we are only working on the election commission’s directives to improve the law and order situation. We do not have a direct role in polls.” The General has also repeatedly stated that the army has to do police duty as well. Since the department of police is unable to protect the lives and properties of people, the army has to do the duty. “The armed forces have always lent support to civil institutions. The security situation is being improved in the entire country to hold elections.
Some political groups are trying to create a perception in the country as if the elections are being manipulated by the armed forces of Pakistan. This perception has to die after detailed clarification by the ECP and DG ISPR. It will make the elections controversial, otherwise.
“Three hundred and seventy-one thousand army soldiers will be deployed at the countrywide polling stations. The army is also performing its duty at the printing press [for ballots].” He further said that “unfortunately, until the police’s abilities improve, we will also have to do police duty.” Major Gen Ghafoor also 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. “The security of political candidates is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan and the ECP. We are assisting the election commission for security during polling”. Recently, in a press conference th DG ISPR has said the army has been assigned to perform following six tasks.
- Maintenance of overall security in the country.
- Provision of security to printing presses.
- Transportation of the material before Election Day.
- Transportation of material from RO office to polling stations as well as security of polling staff on polling day.
- Deployment on polling day inside and outside polling stations.
- Securely transporting election material and polling staff back to Election Commission offices.
ECP says Army has no Role to Play
Pakistan is all set to hold the general elections on July 25th. Political parties, activists and media are doing their expected tasks to ensure that more and more people come out to vote on the polling day. But, the same time, there are some controversies as well. Many segments of civil society and media accuse the Election commission of Pakistan (ECP) of assigning some unnecessary duties to the armed forces of Pakistan.
DG ISPR was attending a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior when he clarified that the army personnel are only following the Election Commission of Pakistan’s instructions.
According to the media reports, such decisions of the ECP will enable its critics to bash at the institution and its procedures. The ECP responded to these fabricated reports and said that the security personnel will for the first time have a role in transmission of election results. The report had quoted the Code of Conduct for the upcoming elections for its premise.
Responding to criticism, the commission has stated that the personnel will have no role in the transmission of results as only the concerned presiding officer (PO) would transmit results via the Result Transmission System (RTS) through returning officers (RO) according to Article 13(2) of the Elections Act, 2017. It said that paragraph XIV of the Code of Conduct for Security Officials for General Elections 2018 only requires security personnel to ensure that the PO is able to freely and securely transmit the results.
Read more: Why DG ISPR’s Tweet saves the Army?
Later on, the director general (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor stated that the armed forces will only support the electoral process and have “no direct role in conduct of elections”. It was important for the DG ISPR to give detail of the troop’s deployment during the elections in the past. He said that in 1997, 192,000 troops had been delegated on duty to oversee 25,000 polling stations for what he termed a “full deployment”.
Then, in 2002, the army deployed less than 35,000 troops for 64,470 polling stations “because the ECP only tasked the Army with overall security”. Likewise, in 2008, 39,000 troops were deployed even though the number of polling stations was much higher (64,100) because the troops were, again, only in charge of overall security. Some political groups are trying to create a perception in the country as if the elections are being manipulated by the armed forces of Pakistan. This perception has to die after detailed clarification by the ECP and DG ISPR. It will make the elections controversial, otherwise.