The interim federal cabinet of Pakistan, in a meeting chaired by interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, granted approval on Tuesday for the deployment of the Pakistan Army and civil armed forces to ensure the peaceful conduct of the general elections scheduled for February 8. This decision, prompted by the interior ministry’s recommendation, comes as the nation faces an increase in terrorist activities less than three weeks before the upcoming polls.
The security personnel deployed will be assigned to sensitive constituencies and polling stations, serving as both a deterrent and a rapid response force. This move follows the establishment of a seven-member committee by PM Kakar to oversee the smooth conduct of the elections and ensure adequate security measures.
Despite recent security concerns, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi affirmed that the threat alerts were unrelated to the elections and reiterated the government’s commitment to holding the general elections on the scheduled date. In the past, elections have been successfully conducted despite security challenges, he noted.
Acknowledging the potential threats, top government and security officials assured the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of their readiness to handle any situation that may arise during the elections. Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja chaired a meeting reviewing preparations for the February 8 polls, with a particular focus on the law and order situation.
Simultaneously, the Punjab government imposed Section 144 across the province until February 12 in response to reports indicating “threats to the law and order situation” during the elections. Section 144 empowers the district administration to issue orders for public interest, including imposing bans on specific activities.
The Punjab Home Department Secretary, Shakeel Ahmed, cited the potential for political gatherings, rallies, and corner meetings to become soft targets for acts by terrorists and miscreants. The directive prohibits the display of weapons, except by law enforcement agencies, as well as all forms of firing and violations of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct. The measures aim to maintain internal security and prevent any untoward incidents during the electoral process.