The Pakistan Army once again excused itself from providing security and Troops for the by-elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab Assemblies.
According to details via a letter, the Ministry of Interior on Thursday informed the Election Commission of Pakistan about the response of the Pak Armed Forces General Headquarters (GHQ) regarding the deployment of the Army and Rangers Personal outside the polling stations during By-Elections.
The letter written by GHQ to the Ministry of Interior stated that the recent suicide attack on the Peshawar police line mosque. Security forces are busy in the operations against the terrorists as the country has an alarming security situation.
Terrorist organizations have openly threatened to attack Political parties and there is a chance of possible terrorist attack during the by-elections.
The letter further stated that the Army is busy with census and providing security for provincial general elections and by-elections on 64 constituencies.
However, Ranger’s Quick Response Force (QRF) can be provided for by-elections in Sindh Rajanpur.
Earlier President Arif Alvi on Wednesday asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to issue the election schedule for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assemblies as soon as possible or be held responsible for violation of the Constitution.
According to a press release issued by the President’s Secretariat, President Alvi issues directives in a letter he wrote to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja.
President Arif Alvi said that the election of an assembly is to be held within 90 days of the dissolution as provided by Article 224(2) of the Constitution.
He highlighted that the conduct and holding of elections was the primary and essential duty of the ECP as per PART VIII of the Constitution, particularly Article 218 (3) which assigned the duty to the ECP to ensure the holding of free and fair elections.
“Thus, it is ultimately the Commission, which if it fails to discharge its functions and duties, is to be held responsible and answerable for the violation of our Constitution,” the president warned the ECP.
The president also highlighted that the “oldest democracies had never delayed elections even during wars”. He highlighted the example of former United States presidents James Madison and Abraham Lincoln who went ahead with elections despite their countries being at war.
“I am of the firm view that there are no such circumstances as may furnish any justification for delaying or postponing of elections, in fact, if such postponements of constitutionally mandated elections are evaluated throughout the world in recent history, they have morphed into serious long term set-backs to democracy,” said Dr. Alvi.
The president appreciates ECP for taking an appropriate constitutional step by announcing the holding of by-elections on the vacated National Assembly seats.
The Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on 18 and 14 Jan respectively, after former prime minister Imran Khan had announced the dissolution of assemblies in an attempt to force the government to hold snap polls.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, if an assembly is dissolved, polls need to be held for the said assembly in 90 days.
However, the governors of both provinces Baligh Ur Rehman in Punjab and Haji Ghulam Ali in KP are yet to approve a date for the elections, drawing severe criticism from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.