Armed Forces Deployment: Election Commission Ensures Security for Upcoming Pakistan Elections

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced on Thursday that the armed forces would be stationed outside the “most sensitive polling stations” during the general elections scheduled for February 8.

This decision follows the approval, two days prior, by the caretaker federal cabinet for the deployment of army personnel. In an official notification, the commission stated that it was its responsibility to organize elections and ensure they are conducted honestly and fairly, with measures in place to prevent corrupt practices.

According to the notification, the armed forces, including civil armed forces, will be deployed in Quick Reaction Force mode and stationed outside selected sensitive polling stations from February 5 to February 10 to assist the ECP in conducting free, fair, and transparent elections.

Civil armed forces will also be stationed at the Printing Corporation of Pakistan and Pakistan Post Foundation in Islamabad from January 12 to February 8 to oversee arrangements for the printing, stacking, and storage of ballot papers.

The armed and civil armed forces will assist in ensuring the security of the transportation of election material from printing presses to the offices of district returning officers. The notification specified the deployment of mobile vigilance teams across all constituencies, forming a tiered security mechanism, with the police as tier-1 responders, civil armed forces as tier-2, and the army as tier-3.

Furthermore, the armed forces are tasked with conducting reconnaissance of each constituency as needed and providing security during the transportation of election material from offices of returning officers to polling stations and back after polling and counting.

The ECP has also authorized designated officers in charge of armed forces and civil armed forces to exercise powers of magistrate first class for the entire deployment period concerning offenses punishable under Sections 176, 177, 183, and 194 of the Elections Act 2017.

The government approved the deployment of military and civil armed forces personnel in response to a demand from the Election Commission of Pakistan, citing a shortage of 275,000 security officials required for election duty.

The ECP had written to the interior ministry, highlighting a shortfall of 277,558 security officials needed nationwide and had sought immediate arrangements for deploying the Pakistan Army and other security forces at polling stations.

The decision comes amid a surge in militant attacks, resulting in the killing of over 700 security personnel and civilians in the first nine months of 2023.