A soldier stands guard outside a distribution center in Karachi, Pakistan. Image Credit: AP

Dubai:  The role of the Pakistan Army is to ensure transparency and security at the polling stations across the country as it has no direct role in the July 25 election process, according to a statement to Gulf News.

The statement clearly outlines the duties of the 371,000 soldiers deployed at the more than 86,000 polling stations throughout the country.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) –media wing of Pakistan Armed Forces, said the Pakistan Army has been requisitioned by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under the constitutional provision to conduct free, fair and peaceful elections.

He explained in an earlier media briefing the Army’s role in conducting the General Elections 2018. He has also briefed the Senate Committee on the army’s duty in the electoral process and reiterated that “Army has no direct role in the July 25 elections”. “The troops will strictly follow the ECP code of conduct” and “the Army will assist the ECP within the given mandate,” he added, dispelling media reports that the army would influence the poll.

The Army has taken the following steps as part of its assigned duties:

The Army Election Support Center established in the Army Air Defence Command will supervise the military’s responsibility of supporting the conduct of elections.

The ECP has assigned five duties to the Armed Forces, which include safe printing of ballot papers at the printing press, secure dispatch, provision to polling staff and return of ballot papers to ECP, deputing military personnel inside/outside polling stations to avoid unpleasant situations, ensure safe environment on election day and safety of polling staff.

The Army will work under the ECP and the presiding officer within the given mandate. Some 700,000 ECP personnel will be assisted by 800,000 security troops, including 371,000 soldiers to ensure a peaceful electoral process.  Army personnel have been trained to conduct modalities of election duties as enunciated by the charter of the ECP.

Electoral responsibilities include:

Security staff were deployed three days prior to polling day to assess the sensitivity of polling station areas and ensure security as per requirement.

The quick reaction force is also in place to help the Presiding Officer (ECP designated civilian officer) or army officer in charge to reinstate the code of conduct of the election.

Security personnel will ensure presence of only authorised staff, nominated party representatives and the voter in the polling station.

Completion of all polling documents and electronic/physical transmission of results will be ensured in the presence of security staff.

Monitoring of this process will be done at each polling station through cameras from the office of District Coordination Officer.

Security staff will ensure maintenance of a peaceful environment to facilitate eligible voters to cast free and impartial votes.

Army personnel will ensure prevention of malpractices observed in the General Election 2013, and at no point in time will indulge in any political or electoral process.