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Army has no direct role in the conduct of elections: ISPR

11 July, 2018

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RAWALPINDI: Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor Tuesday said that the army would fulfil its election duties in a non-political and impartial manner.

Addressing a presser in the garrison city, the spokesman for the military said, “The army has no direct role in the conduct of elections.”

While allaying concerns regarding the July 25 polls, the ISPR DG said, “The armed forces will only support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the

tasks it has sought help.”

Major General Ghafoor went on say that Pakistan was heading towards the general election, and added that this would be the third election which would ensure

democratic process in the country. He said that 371,000 personnel would be deployed on polling day with two soldiers inside each polling station and two outside. He added this was not the  first time that troops would be deployed to overlook the election process.

“The armed forces have rendered services during previous elections as well,” he upheld adding that a total 20,831 polling stations have been declared  sensitive.

Elaborating the role of the military in the printing of ballot papers, the director general of military’s media wing said: “We only have to transport the  ballot papers in a secure manner and will not be involved in anything else.”

He continued: “We will not take over the printing material, the ECP staff will handle that,” he clarified. However, he said that troops would remain deployed at printing presses to ensure no ballot papers are printed after.

Also an election support centre has been established in Rawalpindi to coordinate and, if needed, communicate with the ECP, he said.“Our top priority is to maintain peace and security in the country,” he maintained.

Major General Ghafoor also requested the media to not question the troops deployed at polling stations. “I’d like to request media persons to refrain from approaching troops deployed at the stations,” he said.

“We do not have any political party or alignment and are working only for the country,” he said.

The director general rejected the impression that all political parties were not being given a level playing field in elections.

To a question regarding the alleged role of ISI’s Major General Faiz Hamid in matters outside his domain, the army spokesperson dismissed the impression,

stating that Maj Gen Hamid had played an important role in combating terrorism and his detractors did not understand the scope of his post.

“Is it possible for us to go to every citizen and tell them who to vote for?” he asked while answering a question regarding political engineering.

“Armed forces have credibility and we cannot give a wrong order to a soldier risking his life for the nation,” he said while rejecting that the military was  attempting to “influence” the election.

He said that everyone should go out and vote for a candidate of their choice without any fear.

Major General Ghafoor further clarified that the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had no role in the incident in Multan wherein an election hopeful was  beaten up.

Referring to reports that the ‘jeep’ symbol signifies association with the army, he quipped, “The jeep is not even the army jeep.” “Electoral symbols are neither issued by the armed forces nor the ISI,” the DG ISPR upheld. “Please stop looking at everything with suspicion,” he asserted.

When asked about the involvement of banned outfits in elections, he said: “The ECP has a process of registering political parties and anyone who has objection can approach the electoral body.”

Responding to a question regarding “extraterrestrial beings”, Major General Ghafoor said, “We are not political.”

In response to a question that whether the army will accept Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan as prime minister, Major General Ghafoor said,

“Whoever the people of Pakistan elect will be the prime minister for us and the nation.”

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