Pakistan army to deploy 70,000 troops for election security

Islamabad, May 2 (IANS) Pakistan Army has started deployment of 70,000 troops for election-related duties that include security and maintenance of peace and order, the military spokesman said Thursday.

Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa told a press conference in Rawalpindi that the armed forces have been called upon to act in aid of the civil power under constitutional provisions, reported Xinhua.

The director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said responsibilities assigned to the army include provision of security for printing presses where ballot papers are being printed; safe transportation of ballot papers and election material to election officers and polling stations and maintenance of law and order.

He said printing of ballot papers has been continuing since April 19 and troops are guarding premises of the printing presses concerned.

Deployment of army in the restive southwestern Balochistan province would be completed by Thursday night while deployment in southern Sindh including its capital Karachi would begin on Friday, added Bajwa.

Movement of troops for deployment in Punjab would begin Friday while deployment in the violence-hit northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is underway and would be completed soon.

Bajwa also said police and paramilitary forces would guard polling stations on the polling day while Quick Response Force of Pakistan Army would remain on standby for assistance.

He said a comprehensive security plan is in place and arrangements have also been made for deployment of heli-borne units of Quick Response Force to respond to any eventuality.

He added that 50 helicopters would also be used for election related duties and surveillance purposes.

Asked about security arrangements in militant-infested tribal regions, Bajwa said troops are already there and plans have been finalized to ensure security on the election day.

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