Pakistan: ECP postpones elections in Punjab amid ‘security threats’
Insight Online News
Islamabad, Mar 23 : The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday announced the postponement of the upcoming elections in Punjab, citing security reasons as the major cause behind their change in plan, media reports said.
In light of the Supreme Court’s split ruling last month, President Arif Alvi announced the date for the Punjab polls after consulting the ECP.
Citing its responsibility towards ensuring fair elections in the country, the election organizing authority in its notification recounted its various endeavours in trying to ensure that the commission carried out its responsibilities diligently.
The notification said that in order to organise and conduct the election in accordance with the law in a peaceful manner, the commission had written letters to the ministry of interior and defence for the “deployment of Pakistan Army/Rangers and Frontier Corps at all the polling stations” established for the conduct of general election to the Provincial Assembly of Punjab in static mode.
This was done in view of the heightened security situation in the province and the recent terrorist wave in the country, it added.
However, Punjab Chief Secretary and Inspector General (IG) informed the stakeholders in a meeting of the serious law and order situation, quoting various incidents in the province and the country.
For deputation on election duty, there is a shortfall of approximately 386,623 security personnel, the notification said, which can only be covered by deploying army soldiers and Rangers in static mode.
However, the Ministry of Interior had conveyed to the commission, via a letter, that the deployment of civil and armed forces as required by the election commission would not be possible.
The ministry had also attributed it to a spike in terror incidents across the country whereby the armed forces are deployed on the borders, internal security duties, etc.
It was also added that the intelligence agencies and the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) had issued threat alerts.
“Therefore, in their view, the conduct of general elections in the province of Punjab Assembly is not feasible on already announced date,” the ECP announced.