Islamabad: In an unprecedented move, Pakistan plans to deploy hundreds of thousands of soldiers both inside and outside the polling stations to boost security during the general elections on July 25, the country’s election body has announced.
In the past, the Army was usually only deployed outside the polling stations that were declared ‘most sensitive’. This time, however, troops will be deployed in and outside all polling stations across the country, The Express Tribune reported.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has written a letter to the Ministry of Defence for deployment of the Army for the general elections on July 25.
“The ECP in its letter has requested the Ministry of Defence for army deployment from July 23 till July 26,” said a statement issued by the commission.
There will be more than 85,000 polling stations situated in around 45,000 buildings across the country. More than 350,000 soldiers would be needed to secure those areas, the report said.
The deployment will be in addition to the security cover the army will be providing for government printing presses where ballot-papers will be prepared.
In addition to providing security at the printing presses, the troops will also be providing security for ballot papers and other election material being transported to the offices of returning officers and then to polling stations.
Army, Rangers, and police officials assigned security duties for the polls would be given training on the election process and a code of conduct would be provided to them regarding their duties.
The ECP official said the step has been taken to ensure security officials know exactly what their role is, where they can intervene and where they cannot.
The officials would train master trainers of those departments that would further impart training to their staffers to be deputed on election duty.
In addition to this general training, the ECP would develop a code of conduct for law-enforcement agencies, elaborating on their roles.
Having a history of attacks on its officials in some areas during the last general elections, the ECP is concerned about the security of the election staff including returning officials. The ECP has hired the services of 0.8 million government servants from different departments for election duty.
Attacks were carried out on the ECP officials in Balochistan during the last elections in which few officials were also killed.
It is believed that those polling stations declared highly sensitive where violence is feared will see more deployment than other booths, The News reported.
Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khans Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf is expected to be the main challenger to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League in the general elections. PTI