Pakistan Army not be deployed at polling stations

Islamabad, April 20 (IANS) The Pakistan government has decided not to deploy army personnel at polling stations during the May 11 general elections, a media report said Saturday.

The decision was taken Friday at a meeting on law and order presided over by caretaker prime minister Justice (retired) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, the Dawn reported.

Caretaker information minister Arif Nizami said the army would not be deployed at sensitive polling stations but it would be kept in reserve, close to cantonment areas to act as a quick response force if the need arises.

However, the government’s decision is contrary to that of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which said the army would be deployed at all sensitive polling stations in Karachi and other parts of the country.

A senior ECP official said that letters had been sent to the Secretary of Defence, Secretary of Interior, Chief Secretaries, Inspectors General of Police and representatives of law enforcement agencies to discuss the issue.

Nizami said that thought militants may try to sabotage the elections, but officials decided to cope with all challenges, plug the loopholes in security and take steps to improve law and order.

He said arrangements would be made to protect national leaders, candidates, foreign observers, media personnel and voters.

The minister said a policy of crackdown on display of arms would be followed with some exceptions to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

The number of polling stations and polling staff across the country would be 90,000 and 450,000 respectively, he said.

According to a draft polling scheme prepared by the ECP, the number of polling stations is 72,188 and that of staff will be 700,000.

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