ISLAMABAD: As the February 8 elections approach, the Ministry of Interior submitted its report on the deployment of the armed forces during the upcoming 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.
With 2023 being one of the worst years in terms of terror-related incidents since 2015, concerns loom over the security and safety of candidates and voters in the upcoming polls.
Despite ongoing electioneering efforts by political parties amid various violent incidents and attacks on candidates, some politicians have expressed worries about the law and order situation. A few have even approached the Senate seeking a delay in the polls.
Recent incidents, such as the killing of independent candidate Kaleemullah Khan in North Waziristan and the murder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) member Shah Khalid in Swabi, have added to the heightened security concerns.
Other leaders, including Aslam Buledi of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Mohsin Dawar of National Democratic Movement (NDM), Lala Abdul Rasheed of National Party, and Senator Kohda Akram Dashti, have also faced attacks this month.
In response to the precarious situation, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has established a high-level committee to oversee poll security. The Pakistan Army has pledged to provide necessary military assistance for the upcoming general elections.
Following the approval of the Interior Ministry’s summary by the caretaker federal cabinet, Pakistan Army soldiers, along with Rangers and Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel, will be involved in election duties.
The decision to involve the army in the polls was made due to a significant shortage of security personnel, particularly in Punjab, the country’s election battleground, where there is a shortfall of 92,000 security personnel at polling stations.