ISLAMABAD - The military command would reportedly deliberate today (Friday) on formulating the operational plan on engaging the military troops for the provision of security and maintenance of law and order during the general polls in the country and voters’ verification campaign in Karachi.

The 156th Corps Commanders Conference scheduled today at the General Headquarters (GHQ) is expected to evaluate the strategy in pursuance of security plan already agreed upon by the government bodies and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday.

To be chaired by the Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the moot would also have an overview on the developments concerning the defence and strategic fronts in the year 2012, in order to map out the wider contours of the army’s future course, military sources said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Secretary Defence Lt Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik had informed during a meeting with the ECP officials as well as the federal and provincial secretaries that the deployment of military troops at all the polling stations across Pakistan was not possible due to the extensive military engagements in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan while the army troops could be deployed at those polling stations that were to be marked as sensitive. The Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim had demanded provision of military security at all the polling stations throughout the country, in the Wednesday meeting held to specifically discuss the security issues for general polls.

Requesting anonymity, a senior army officer said, official instructions were likely to be issued in the today’s Corps Commanders Conference to the general officers commanding (GOCs) concerned, director generals Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as the DGs Rangers (Sindh and Punjab) to coordinate with the election authorities at provincial level for drawing roadmap for the military troops deployment in the sensitive areas where required. Reportedly, corps commanders concerned would supervise the security arrangements from the military side.

The army leadership formally extended its complete support to and compliance with the ECP for foolproof security during the forthcoming general elections in a meeting between General Kayani and Fakhruddin G Ebrahim held few days back on December 26.         

Prior to that, following a high-level meeting, the ECP on December13 had announced seeking army’s assistance for the provision of security during the voters’ verification campaign in Karachi. Consequently, the commission had sent letters, the next day (December 14), to the secretary defence and secretary interior for the provision of security men from Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps and Rangers to guard the ECP personnel during voters’ verification campaign in Karachi.

The military officials said, around 15,000 security personnel (including troops from army, FC and rangers) are likely to be assigned security duties during voters’ verification in Karachi. The ECP reportedly demands the provision of a military man each for providing security to its 18,000 staff members engaged in voters’ verification in Karachi.

Under the Section 4 of the Conduct of General Elections Order 2002, the ECP stands empowered to seek assistance from any quarter for the conduct of elections. “-the election commission shall take such steps and measures, including preparation of electoral rolls and delimitation of the constituencies, and adopt such procedure, do such acts, pass such orders, issue such directions and take all such ancillary, incidental and consequential steps as may be deemed necessary for effectively carrying out the elections for the members of the Senate, National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies.”

On December 5, 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had ordered, “The Election Commission of Pakistan is directed to carry out proper and complete door-to-door verification in Karachi so as to ensure that no voter is disenfranchised or dislocated and all other discrepancies are rectified as early as possible. In view of the peculiar security situation in Karachi highlighted herein such verification must be carried out by the election commission with the help and assistance of Pakistan Army and the FC.”