ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday assured Interim Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk of the army’s complete support in conducting the general elections 2018.
This was the second meeting between the interim prime minister and army chief since June 6, when the caretaker cabinet held its first meeting.
The army chief reportedly told the PM that the caretaker government could order the deployment of troops for election duties to ensure the transparent and timely conduct of the polls.
Concurrently, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday requested for the deployment of troops at all three printing presses, where the ballot paper for General Election 2018 will be printed.
According to sources, the Ministry of Defence had agreed to provide 350,000 troops for election duties as requested by the electoral body. The army is expected to take over the security of the Printing Corporation of Pakistan, which publishes ballot papers, from June 27 whereas it will take up election duties four days before the July 25 polls.
A summary of the request was sent to the Ministry of Defence by the electoral body.
The sources further revealed that the distribution of ballot papers will also be done under the army’s supervision.
Sources had earlier informed that the Defence Ministry decided to call back those army, air force and navy personnel who has retired in the last two years for the purpose. The retired personnel will enjoy complete powers that are given to serving military personnel on election duty.
The ECP on Wednesday had written a summary to the defence ministry seeking 350,000 troops for election duty.
Last week, the ECP had declared that army personnel would be posted inside and outside the polling stations as well as at the printing press from June 27 till polling day.
Though the army has been deployed to secure the general elections previously, such a high number has never been seen earlier.
According to media reports, with 350,000 available personnel, the armed forces will be able to post two security officials inside and two outside the estimated 85,000 polling stations.
The Pakistan Army had also spared around 200,000 troops to conduct the Sixth Population and Housing Census of the country last year.
Separately, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) General Zubair Mahmood Hayat also called on PM Mulk. A statement issued by the PM’s office after the cabinet meeting said that the army chief felicitated the caretaker PM on assuming charge and matters pertaining to Pakistan Army had come under discussion.
ARRANGEMENTS UNDERWAY FOR ‘SMOOTH POLLS’:
PM Mulk also chaired a separate briefing on the preparations and arrangements being made for the smooth conduct of general elections.
The briefing was attended by Interior Minister Azam Khan, Punjab Chief Minister Hassan Askari, CM Sindh Fazlur Rehman, KP Chief Minister Justice (r) Dost Mohammad Khan, Balochistan Chief Minister Alauddin Marri and secretary to PM Suhail Aamir. Also present was Election Commission Secretary Babar Yaqoob, and the chief secretaries and inspector-generals of all provinces.
Yaqoob gave a detailed presentation on the arrangements made for conducting the upcoming elections and also elaborated on the details of the code of conduct that has been worked out for contesting candidates, presiding officers and the polling staff, the law enforcement agencies deployed for election duties, media and election observers, both local and foreign, who would be monitoring the elections country-wide.
The prime minister expressed satisfaction over the preparations made by the ECP.