The Pakistan Army considers security of borders as its first priority and will not be available for poll duty in the upcoming provincial elections due to the “current situation” in the country, the defence ministry has informed the election commission.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) held back-to-back meetings with top Punjab officials and the secretary and additional secretary of the federal defence ministry to discuss security for the elections.
Elections in the Punjab province of Pakistan are scheduled to be held on April 30, while in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the governor has proposed to hold elections in the province on May 28.
Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Hamood Uz Zaman Khan led a team of his ministry in a meeting chaired by the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said in a press statement on Tuesday that the defence secretary along with Additional Secretary Maj Gen Khurram Sarfraz Khan briefed the CEC and ECP officials on the country’s prevalent situation and the military’s deployment.
“They said that the Army attaches importance to its basic duties, in which the security of the borders and the country is its first priority. They said that the Army is not available for election duty at this time due to the present situation in the country,” the ECP statement read.
The defence secretary also said that finally, it would be the government’s decision if it wanted to keep the military restricted to its primary duties or appoint it for secondary tasks such as election-related duties.
“They also clarified that in case of election duty, the Army can be deployed in quick reaction force mode but it is not possible to perform duty in static mode,” according to the statement.
The defence ministry officials said that the current economic situation of the country was also affecting the Army.
Army personnel traditionally have played a key role in keeping the peace during elections.
However, the attacks by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan rebels have increased in recent months, forcing the Army to make adjustments in its deployment of troops.
Without Army troops, it may be difficult to maintain law and order during elections.
Pakistan has been witnessing a sharp rise in terror incidents in the last few months, which have taken the lives of several people, prompting the security forces have upped the ante against militants across the country.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)