ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) yesterday decided to deploy army to ensure security at the coming by-election in Punjab.

The commission has scheduled by-election on October 6 for PP-16 (Attock) and on October 11 for NA-154 (Lodhran-I), NA-144 (Okara-II) and PP-147 (Lahore-XI). The Attock slot was created after the murder of home minister Shuja Khanzada in a suicide attack on a political meeting at his hometown last month.

The ECP announced by-election for NA-122 and NA-154 after election tribunals unseated National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and another PML-N lawmakers Sadiq Baloch over irregularities. The seat of NA-144 fell vacant as a poll panel disqualified PML-N’s Muhammad Arif Chaudhry for holding a fake degree while another tribunal set aside the election of Mohsin Latif, nephew of Kulsoom Nawaz, who was elected from PP-147 constituency. “The volatile law and order situation forced district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) to make request to the provincial chapter of ECP to request deployment of Punjab Rangers and Pakistan Army for ensuring law and order in and outside polling stations,” the commission said in a statement.

"The ECP has sent letters to the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defence asking them to issue necessary directives for deployment of sufficient strength of the Rangers and the Army under the intimation of ECP in the mentioned five constituencies," the commission further stated. Political parties contesting the polls on three national assembly seats and two provincial assembly constituencies have also urged the ECP to conduct the election under military after the Punjab police reported a majority of polling stations as “most sensitive” areas. ECP Secretary Babar Fateh Yaqoob told journalists a week ago that the commission had not yet received any request from the Punjab government to deploy Rangers or military during the by-election and that the law and order situation was not that sensitive in the areas where polls are scheduled to take place on October 11.

ECP reminder: 

Meanwhile, the ECP reminded political parties and lawmakers to meet the constitutional obligation by submitting statements of their annual assets to ECP till September 30. Each lawmaker under 42A of Representative of People's Act (ROPA) is required to submit yearly income by September 30 that would be published in official gazette. The commission has so far received statements from only 30 senators, out of 104, while only 63, out of 342, members of national assembly have done so.