The leadership of the Pakistan Army approved a security plan for national and provincial polls and the necessary troop deployment. The plan, which was approved on Tuesday at the corps commanders’ conference in Rawalpindi, envisaged concentrated troop deployments for polling stations under threat. The conference was called by COAS Gen Ashfaque Pervez Kiyani at a time when militants have been directing violence against election activities in an attempt to have them cancelled. Therefore, the beginning of deployment, which is already taking place, in six districts of Balochistan, is not merely the fulfillment of General Kayani’s pledges to the Chief Election Commissioner and the caretaker Prime Minister, but also a practical proof of the Army’s commitment to the poll process. The announcement of the PPP, the ANP and the MQM of their resolve to contest the polls showed the same commitment. Though this announcement came from Sindh leaders of the components of the outgoing coalition, it was backed by contacts between President Zardari on behalf of the PPP and the other two party heads. It took place in Karachi, where all three parties were struck by the militants. The leaders of these parties alleged that the militants were armed wings of right-wing parties, though the militants had announced that the PTI, the PML(N) and the JUI(F) would not be spared either. This decision by the three parties originally targeted showed that the elections would take place on schedule, and thus the attempt of the militants had not succeeded.

The armed forces must be conscious both of the importance of the task to national life, and of the risks involved. The importance of the task lies in the importance of these elections to the aspirations of the nation, and the hopes it is pinning to getting the type of government it really wants. The crisis involved should be familiar to the Army, which now has spent years fighting against militants in the tribal areas.

The commitment shown by both politicians should not solely be towards elections, but towards the purpose behind those elections, which is a solution of the problems that have made the lives of the ordinary citizen so difficult. That has become all the more necessary by the current campaign, which has meant that the struggle for the vote will have been a bloody one. It is also incumbent on the nation to back both its Army and its political parties by defying the threat and turning out in large numbers to vote on polling day.