ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry has informed the ECP that the armed forces would not be able to perform security duties during the provincial assembly elections in Punjab and KP as well as by-elections on 64 National Assembly seats as it was busy conducting census and counter-terror operations.
Earlier this week, the electoral body had written to the federal government, seeking the deployment of troops of civil armed forces for the conduct of general and by-elections in various constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies.
The interior ministry however said that onslaught of terrorist activities tested the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to the maximum extent leaving little room to spare for other activities.
In The Correspondence dated Feb 8
The Interior Ministry said Pakistan was going through a difficult security situation and made mention of the multi-dimensional security concerns.
Border security, internal security, maintenance of law and order and deployment at forward posts were among the range of duties underscored by the ministry.
The ministry also highlighted that the intelligence agencies and the NACTA have been issuing threat alerts regarding the security situation prevailing in the country.
The Interior Ministry said that the ECP’s request was also taken up with the Military Operations Directorate at GHQ as it was a key stakeholder.
In view of the above, the Interior Ministry said that the deployment of civil armed forces to the extent required by the ECP, both in terms of numbers as well as deployment in static numbers, at all sensitive and highly sensitive polling stations in all constituencies of all provinces, may not be possible as advised by the MO Directorate, GHQ.
In addition, the troops are also required to undertake widespread deployment for achieving secure conduct of the census.
Apropos, their availability for the desired deployment during the conduct of by-elections on 64 National Assembly seats in four provinces and the conduct of provincial assembly elections in KP and Punjab remains unfeasible, it stated.
However, it also said for little deployment needs, Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) could be provided for the second-tier NA by-elections in Rajanpur.
The Flagrant threats
It further highlighted that a terrorist organization had openly threatened politicians. And there exist apprehension that the political leadership could be potential targets during the election campaign.
Increased terror attacks
Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.
Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in KP and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalized a nexus with the outlawed TTP.
As per the statistics released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), January 2023 remained one of the deadliest months since July 2018. Around 134 people lost their lives and 254 received injuries in at least 44 militant attacks across the country.
Most recently, more than 80 people, mostly cops, lost their lives during a suicide attack at a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines.