ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday directed the army to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) strictly within the bounds of given mandate for the conduct of General Election 2018.
General Bajwa visited the Army Election Support Centre in Rawalpindi where he was given a detailed briefing about the plan for provision of assistance to the ECP for free, fair and transparent conduct of the general elections. The COAS maintained that the army will ensure safe and secure environment while performing security duties enabling the people of Pakistan to exercise their democratic right to vote.
General Bajwa said that working in synchronisation with other elements of security apparatus, all efforts be put in to ensure secure and safe environment enabling the people of Pakistan to freely exercise their democratic right.
Meanwhile, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor told the Senate’s Committee on Interior that the army has always supported the civil institutions.
Asif Ghafoor rejected the notion that the security forces have any direct role in how the July 25 elections will unfold. He said the Pakistan Army personnel are only following the code of conduct of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to provide foolproof security during the elections.
“There were some rumours that the army personnel had been issued specific orders -- this is completely baseless," he said.
Major General Asif Ghafoor said, "We do not have any link with the elections; we are only working on the Election Commission’s directives to improve the law and order situation. We do not have a direct role in polls."
He said the army is not taking direct responsibility for the security of any politicians. He said the security of political candidates is the responsibility of the government and the ECP. “We are assisting the Election Commission for security during polling and unfortunately, until the police's strength improves, we will also have to do police duty,” he said.
Responding to a question by the committee Chairman Senator Rehman Malik about coordination with the Afghan government, the DG ISPR said Pakistan has been assured of reciprocal support from the Afghan side on the security front. He said Afghanistan has assured Pakistan about the closure of border during the elections. “When the elections took place in Afghanistan, we took extraordinary measures on this side of the border. This time, the Afghan president phoned Pakistani prime minister and the army chief to assure us of their cooperation,” he said.
The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief Dr Suleman told the committee that the top leaderships of all the political parties were facing threat.
“We have received 65 threatalerts, most from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Daesh have also issued threats,” the Nacta chief informed the committee, adding that they had also recorded a threat alert from the MQM London. He said that the new perception after the death of TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah that the TTP had gone weak was proving wrong.