Troops to be deployed at polling stations in Karachi
19 August, 2013
KARACHI: Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah on Sunday directed the chief secretary to request the armed forces to deploy troops at sensitive polling stations in Karachi during the upcoming by-elections.
The chief minister gave these directives in accordance with the instructions of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The Election Commission had earlier directed the Sindh government to deploy armed forces at a number of sensitive polling stations across the city. The re-polling will be held on August 22.
Several political parties in Sindh were demanding the deployment of troops in Karachi for by-polls so that the elections could take place in a transparent manner.
Earlier, the Pir Pagara-led Pakistan Muslim League-Functional again wrote a letter to the ECP calling for deployment of the army inside and outside the polling stations for the by-elections.
"To avoid bloodshed in the by-polls on 42 national and provincial constituencies, the law-enforcement agencies must be deployed all around and inside the polling stations," wrote Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh in the letter sent to the chief election commissioner on Sunday.
The PML-F general secretary also asked the chief justice of the Supreme Court to issue orders to the acting election commissioner for deploying soldiers owing to the growing lawlessness.
He also demanded that the chief justice should personally look into the matter of army supervision to ensure transparent elections and to make them free from bloodshed and violence that might erupt on polling day. "Without the deployment of army personnel, elections cannot be free and fair," Sheikh said.
Last month, the PML-F had sent another letter to the chief election commissioner regarding alleged pre-poll rigging with the transfers and postings of favourite officers. The party alleged that the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) had posted officials of its own choice to tilt the election results in its favour.
Sheikh asked the authorities to cancel all transfers and postings with immediate effect as after the by-polls schedule announced by the Election Commission these administrative measures were "unlawful and unconstitutional". The chief election commissioner assured the PML-F that the grievances of political parties would be redressed.
Meanwhile, the transportation of ballot papers for the by-polls has been completed. An important meeting of the Election Commission will be held today (Monday) in which crucial decisions are expected.