Bajwa praises military’s ECP-mandated role in polls

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ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa praised the military for playing the role assigned by the Election Commission of Pakistan in the general elections held last week.
“COAS appreciated efforts of Army Elections Support Centre (AESC) and field formations for assisting Election Commission of Pakistan as per assigned mandate for conduct of elections,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement on the corps commanders conference held at the General Headquarters.
Gen Bajwa, while chairing the conference, also thanked the people for supporting the armed forces in the discharge of their duties during the July 25 elections.
The ECP had requisitioned deployment of the armed forces to assist it in free, fair and transparent conduct of elections 2018. The armed forces were primarily assigned the role of security.
In one of the biggest deployments for election duties in the country, 371,388 troops were deployed at 85,000 polling stations. Besides performing duties at polling stations, the troops also guarded three printing presses where ballot papers and other election stationery were printed and provided security during the transportation of election material.
The role of the troops was covered by a code of conduct for security personnel that had been issued by the ECP.
The European Union Election Observers Mission had in its report noted that the ‘code of conduct for security personnel’ increased the powers and role of security personnel posted. Questions were also raised over the role of military inside the polling stations on election day.
“While a secure environment for voters, candidates and polling staff is essential, the deployment of large numbers of soldiers, and their presence inside polling stations with expanded powers could raise voter intimidation,” EU mission’s report had said.
Three troops were martyred when terrorists attacked a convoy transporting the polling staff of NA-271 (Buleda). Casualties were also reported when a vehicle transporting election material in NA-12 (Battagram) met with accident.
“Forum paid tribute to all martyrs and injured who sacrificed their blood during the process,” the ISPR said.
Barring Quetta and Buleda incidents, polling day largely remained peaceful.

Security

Gen Bajwa directed continuation of the counter-terrorism and counter-militancy operations.
Geostrategic environment, regional peace and internal security situation of the country were reviewed at the meeting.
“Forum expressed satisfaction on progress of military level engagements with Afghanistan for regional peace especially through Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace & Stability (APAPPS),” the ISPR further said.