Army and Rangers personnel will be deployed for security of the upcoming general elections in Punjab, caretaker Information Minister Aamir Mir announced on Monday, as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja met the provincial cabinet to deliberate on ensuring “free and fair” elections.
“The Army and Rangers will be deployed in Punjab for the upcoming polls,” Mir told a press conference after the meeting. “As many as 147,000 Army and paramilitary personnel will perform election security duties. Some 7,000 of 50,000 polling stations in Punjab have been declared sensitive,” he added.
According to the interim information minister, the meeting’s participants had agreed that elections should be held transparently and on “time.” To a question on whether a date for the polls had been determined, he said this had not been discussed during the meeting with the CEC and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). While the electoral body has yet to issue a definitive date, it has maintained that polls would take place in the last week of January 2024 following the completion of fresh delimitation of constituencies.
Mir said the Punjab government has already started preparing for polls to 147 national and 297 provincial assembly seats. “Some shortcomings have been reported in this regard, which will be addressed by the time of elections,” he added.
In a statement issued after the meeting, the caretaker provincial government said the participants had conducted a “comprehensive” review of the ECP’s arrangements for the upcoming elections, as well as the readiness of the Punjab government. They had also been briefed on required security measures, it added.
“The caretaker government and the ECP have affirmed their commitment to ensuring peaceful, impartial, and fair elections. The Punjab government will designate a focal person for coordination with the ECP in this regard,” it said, citing the CEC as stressing on the collective responsibility to ensure that polls are conducted “freely and fairly within the stipulated time frame.”
The statement maintained that the delimitation exercise would conclude by Nov. 30, following which an election schedule would be issued. It said interim Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi had pledged “unwavering support to the ECP” for ensuring peaceful and transparent general elections.