LAHORE: Quick Response Force of the Army and Rangers to be deployed to monitor the sensitive areas on the vote day across the province to prevent violent clashes between the contestant parties, Punjab Election Commissioner Masood Malik told The Nation on Wednesday. “The security forces will also be on the strict vigil to apprehend any terrorist attack on the polling day in first phase of local bodies’ elections in 12 districts,” he added.

The clashes between Imran Khan party and the ruling party are growing since the face off in NA-122 and PP-147 by-election. A PTI activist was allegedly murdered by ruling party workers in Garhi Shahu during the by-poll campaign. Two more workers of Mr Khan had allegedly been killed by the ruling party activists three days ago at Yakki Gate area of the provincial capital during local bodies’ election drive.

Mr Malik said, “Sensitive polling areas will be on the priority of Army and Rangers Quick Response Force to avert any possible serious clash between the candidates’ supporters as well as to prevent any terror incident. But the military and para-military arms of the government will work in aid of the civilian authorities on the vote day.” “The overall security management will be the responsibility of the police and the law enforcing agency with all its sister organizations deputed inside and outside the polling stations. The Army and Ranger troops will be patrolling in all the electioneering areas with special deployment in sensitive regions,” he added.

Opposition parties, PTI, PPP, JI and PAT have demanded of the Punjab Election Commission to deploy Army and Rangers troops in all the polling stations. They don’t trust the police, as the law enforcing agency will be playing the role of facilitator to the ruling party candidates to steal the elections. When asked Malik about complete deployment of Army and Rangers troops, he said, “Both security services have already been multi-tasked. The Army troops are undertaking the rescue task in the quake-hit areas, besides fighting terrorism and defending national frontiers. The Ranger force is almost facing the same situation.”

“It is not possible for the military security services to spare large number of troops for overseeing a huge electoral exercise,” provincial election commissioner argued. According to security agencies’ sources, the districts of Lahore, Gujrat, Faisalabad, Kasur and Bhakkar marked as dangerous which can face violent clashes between the workers of PTI and the ruling party on the vote day and during the election campaign.

In another threat assessment, the security agencies marked Lahore, Faisalabad, Bhakkar, Lodhran, Vehari and Bahawalnagar as the possible targets of terrorist attacks. Over 40 thousand candidates in the race for various offices of the Union Councils in the first phase of the local bodies’ polls across Punjab. The first phase of local bodies’ elections will be held in 12 districts of Punjab including Lahore, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Chakwal, Bhakkar, Nankana Sahib, Kasur, Pakpattan, Okara, Lodhran, Vehari and Bahawalnagar on October 31. A total of 40101 will contest for different slots of local polls.

According to the Election Commission data for the first phase, a total of 6307 candidates are in the race for the position of chairmen and vice chairmen. A single ballot will be polled for both the chairmen and vice chairmen. There are 16 panels for the chairmen and vice chairmen who have been elected unopposed and 1042 candidates have withdrawn their candidature. In the run for general members of the Union Councils 28263 will test their fate on the vote day, while 5531 to contest as the general members of Municipal Committee Wards.

A total of 737 candidates have been elected unopposed while 3044 withdrawn their candidature for the position of Union Council members. For Municipal Committee Wards’ members 21 candidates have been elected unopposed while 933 withdrawn their candidature. Meanwhile, Punjab Election Commissioner has assured the PTI Punjab organizer Chaudhary Sarwar to provide his party the verified voter lists of the October 11 by-polls and general elections 2013 on 1st of the November.