Army: Pakistan Army will not be available for elections, Defense Ministry tells election commission

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani army considers border security its top priority and will not be available for ballot in upcoming provincial elections due to ‘current situation’ in the country, Defense Ministry told committee electoral.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) held back-to-back meetings with senior Punjab officials and the Secretary and Additional Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Defense to discuss election security.
Elections in Pakistan’s Punjab province are due to be held on April 30, while in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the governor has proposed to hold elections in the province on May 28.
Secretary of Defense Lieutenant General (retired) Hamood Uz Zaman Khan led a team from his ministry in a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said in a press release on Tuesday that the Defense Secretary along with the Additional Secretary Maj Gen Khurram Sarfraz Khan briefed the CEC and ECP officials on the current situation in the country and the deployment of the army.
“They said the Army attaches importance to its basic duties, in which border and country security is its first priority. They said the army was not available for the elections at this time due to the current situation in the country,” the ECP statement read.
The Defense Secretary also said that ultimately it would be the government’s decision whether to limit the military to its primary duties or appoint it to secondary duties such as election-related duties.
“They also clarified that in case of electoral service, the military can be deployed in quick reaction force mode but it is not possible to perform the service in static mode,” the statement said.
Defense Ministry officials said the country’s current economic situation is also affecting the military.
Army personnel have traditionally played a key role in maintaining peace during elections.
However, attacks by Pakistani Tehreek-i-Taliban rebels have increased in recent months, forcing the army to make adjustments in the deployment of its troops.
Without army troops, it can be difficult to maintain law and order during elections.
Pakistan has witnessed a sharp increase in terrorist incidents over the past few months which have claimed the lives of several people, prompting security forces to up the ante against militants across the country.


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