Home Latest News ECP Directs Armed Forces to Remain Impartial During Election Duty

ECP Directs Armed Forces to Remain Impartial During Election Duty

Electoral body stresses troops cannot interfere in counting process or take into custody any election material

by Staff Report

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday issued its code of conduct for armed forces’ troops deployed for polls duty on Feb. 8, stressing they should not act in favor of or against any political party and candidate and remain outside selected “most sensitive” polling stations.

Earlier this week, the interim federal cabinet, acting on the recommendation of the Interior Ministry, unanimously approved the deployment of the Pakistan Army and civil armed forces personnel in sensitive constituencies to ensure security on polling day. In this regard, the ECP said the troops should ensure a secure environment for voters; deploy outside selected “most sensitive” polling stations; ensure security of printing presses during printing of ballots and security of ballots during their transport; and ensure security of election material transported from offices to returning officers to polling stations and back.

The electoral body’s notification said the troops would facilitate in providing a secure environment to enable district retuning officers (DROs), returning officers (ROs), presiding officers (POs), and polling staff in the accomplishment of their tasks. Troops should also, it stressed, “remain impartial and neutral throughout the election process in general and during the voting process in particular and shall not act in favor of or against any political party or candidate.”

Directing the soldiers to engage with voters and election staff with politeness and in accordance with law, it said they should identify suspicious voters for frisking/checking by police and ensure no one brings a weapon/undesirable item inside the polling station.

While performing their duties, read the notification, troops should first report to the PO and inform their own chain of command or any irregularity and act in accordance with the instructions issued. “In case the PO does not act to prevent the commission of any reported irregularity/issue/malpractice, the security staff will immediately inform concerned returning officer,” it added.

Troops should “abide by all relevant laws and continuously work to gain general public’s trust by ensuring safe environment and maintaining law and order during election process,” it added. It also stressed no voter should be barred from entering a polling station unless they possessed undesirable items or were creating a disturbance or incitement to violence or any action prejudicial to the interests of Pakistan.

Under no case should troops assume the duties of polling staff, it emphasized, nor should they take into their custody any election material, including ballot papers, marking aid stamps, official code mark stamps, electoral rolls, ballot boxes, Form-45, and Form-46. They should also not, it said, enter into any arguments with any candidate, election agent, polling agent, observer or media person. Similarly, the functions of the PO, APO, or polling officer should face no interference.

In case of any irregularity outside a polling station, the troops have been directed not to independently respond, but rather bring it to notice of the PO for further direction. “In case irregularity or malpractice continues, shall inform his officer in-charge immediately so that necessary legal action can be taken,” it added.

The soldiers have also been directed not to interfere in the counting process in any manner and perform their duties outside the polling station diligently so that the counting process can be completed in a peaceful manner.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment