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No direct armed forces role in polls

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From Our Staff Correspondent

rawalpindi: The armed forces will only support the electoral process and have “no direct role in conduct of elections,” Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a press conference on Tuesday in which he also invited people to come out and vote for “whatever leader, and whatever party they like”.
Terming the third democratic transfer of power in Pakistan a continuity of the democratic process, the director general (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the armed forces will only support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in its duties according to the code of conduct provided by the commission itself. He pointedly recalled that this was not the first time that the forces were being deployed for election duty.
He said that in 1997, 192,000 troops had been delegated on duty to oversee 25,000 polling stations for what he termed a “full deployment”. Then, in 2002, the army deployed less than 35,000 troops for 64,470 polling stations “because the ECP only tasked the Army with overall security”.
Likewise, in 2008, 39,000 troops were deployed even though the number of polling stations was much higher (64,100) because the troops were, again, only in charge of overall security.
He added that the 2013 elections had been difficult security-wise because of the ongoing war against militancy. Many politicians had received death threats and an Awami National Party (ANP) leader had even been killed. To counter the prevailing insecurity, 75,000 troops had been deployed for 70,185 polling stations, Gen Ghafoor recalled.

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