February 8 Polls
ISLAMABAD: On Tuesday, the interim federal cabinet approved the deployment of Pakistan Army and civil armed forces to ensure a peaceful conduct of the upcoming February 8 general elections.
As the February 8 elections approach, the Ministry of Interior had submitted a summary to the caretaker federal cabinet seeking approval for the deployment of armed forces during the polls. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had requested the deployment of 277,000 army personnel nationwide to ensure security and maintain law and order for the 126 million voters choosing their representatives next month.
Amidst the backdrop of 2023 being one of the worst years since 2015 in terms of terror-related incidents, concerns loom over the security and safety of candidates and voters. Despite ongoing electioneering efforts by political parties, violent incidents and attacks on candidates have raised doubts about the overall law and order situation.
Several political figures, including independent candidate Kaleemullah Khan and PTI’s Shah Khalid, fell victim to attacks in different regions. This has prompted some politicians to voice concerns, with some even urging a delay in the polls for security reasons. In response to the precarious situation, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar with a high-level committee has approved the deployment of Army at polling stations.
The army’s assistance becomes crucial due to a shortage of security personnel, especially in key regions. Punjab, a critical battleground for elections, faces a shortage of 92,000 security personnel at polling stations. Similarly, Karachi Police is grappling with a shortage of 14,300 security personnel, including female officers.
With approval granted by the caretaker federal cabinet, Pakistan Army soldiers, along with Rangers and Frontier Constabulary personnel, will perform election duties. The move underscored the collaborative effort to address security challenges and facilitate a safe and secure electoral process.