Director General Inter Services Public Relations Major General Asif Ghafoor has assured the army will fulfill its election duties in a “non-political and impartial manner”.
Addressing a news conference in Rawalpindi, Major General Asif Ghafoor said the armed forces are not directly involved in conducting the election, they will only support the election commission in the task they have sought our help with.
He said Pakistan is headed towards the general election and this is the third election which will ensure the democratic process.
Stating that “3,71,000 personnel will be deployed on election day with two soldiers inside each polling station and two outside”, the DG ISPR said this is not the first time that troops will be deployed to overlook the election process.
He said the armed forces have rendered services during previous elections as well. He added a total 20,831 polling stations have been declared sensitive.
Regarding overlooking the process of the printing of ballot papers, DG ISPR maintained, “we only have to transport the ballot papers in a secure manner and will not be involved in anything else.”
He clarified we will not take over the printing material, the ECP staff will handle that.
However, the DG ISPR assured that troops will remain deployed at printing presses to ensure no ballot papers are printed after.
The army spokesman said that in Rawalpindi we have established an army election support centre, headed by a three-star general, to coordinate and if needed communicate with ECP.
Maj Gen Ghafoor further revealed that the ECP has issued a code of conduct for the military and we are bound to implement it in executing our duties.
He maintained our top priority is to maintain peace and security in the country, we will carry out our duties in a non-political and impartial manner without any interference in the election process.
Further, the DG ISPR shared that the ECP has made a system through which pictures will be taken and transmitted to returning officers to ensure that when the votes are counted they are neither less nor more.
Major General Ghafoor also requested the media to not question the troops deployed at polling stations.
He said ISPR representatives will be available for information.
The DG ISPR also urged the nation to come out and vote adding that he hopes the turnout will increase.
Regarding candidates being allegedly ‘forced’ to switch parties, the military spokesperson questioned, “has there ever been an election in which candidates have not jumped ship?”
Claiming that the environment in which 2013 general election was held was more difficult, DG ISPR said, “there was a different environment then and terrorists threatened to not allow politicians to campaign.”
Answering a question regarding the alleged role of ISI’s Major General Faiz Hamid in matters outside his domain, the army spokesperson dismissed the impression, stating that Maj Gen Hamid has played an important role in combating terrorism and his detractors do not understand the scope of his post.
With regards to reports that the ‘jeep’ electoral symbol signifies association with the army, he quipped, electoral symbols are neither issued by the armed forces nor the ISI.
With regards to a question regarding the involvement of banned outfits in the polls, he said, “the ECP has a process of registering political parties and anyone who has objections can approach the electoral body.”
Speaking about social media misuse which he had addressed at length during his last press conference, DG ISPR said, “we do not want to control social media.