ECP wants army deployed for NA-245 by-poll

Mumtaz Alvi
Thursday, Jun 23, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of violence during the recent NA-240 by-election in Karachi, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday decided to deploy the Pakistan Army outside the polling stations in the NA-245 by-poll in Karachi scheduled for July 27.

NA-245 District East IV comprises areas of Garden, Lines Area, Jamshed Quarters, PIB Colony, PECHS and Tariq Road. It fell vacant after the death of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Aamir Liaquat Hussain.

For the army deployment during the by-poll, the ECP wrote a letter to the defence secretary, which reads that under the Article 220 of the Constitution, the state wanted the army to help it provide a level-playing field and conducive environment to all the stakeholders during the by-election.

The ECP drew the defence secretary’s attention towards the prevailing law and order situation in the constituency and noted that it would be highly appreciated if necessary directions were issued to the quarters concerned for the deployment of sufficient strength of the Pakistan Army as QRF/ stand-by mode, in the constituency.

The development came just a day after the disclosure that army was unwilling to deploy troops inside polling stations for upcoming electoral exercises in three provinces.

The ECP had on June 20 sought assistance of armed forces for by-polls in different constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa as well as for both phases of the local government polls in Sindh.

In a letter to Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said that in view of the charged political atmosphere and extreme polarisation in the country, the ECP wanted army deployment outside the polling stations during the by-polls in four Punjab Assembly constituencies of Lahore (PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170), one KP assembly seat (PK-7), and one National Assembly constituency in Sindh (NA-245) in order to prevent violence as witnessed in the recent Karachi by-poll (NA-240) and a clash between two political parties in Lahore (PP-167).

As per the ECP schedule issued last week, the by-election for NA-245 would be held on July 27 and the candidates could submit their nomination papers from June 22 till June 24.

In a related development, the electoral body has authorised the Frontier Corps personnel to be deployed as the Quick Response Force (QRF) for the upcoming by-poll in PK-7 scheduled for June 26 to exercise powers of first class magistrate during their three day deployment and hold summary trial in case any polling station was captured.