RAWALPINDI: Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor assured on Tuesday that the army will fulfill its election duties in a “non-political and impartial manner.”
“The armed forces are not directly involved in conducting the election,” the DG ISPR said as he addressed a press conference in Rawalpindi to allay concerns regarding the July 25 general election.
The military spokesperson clarified, “The armed forces will only support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the tasks they have sought our help with.”
“I am constantly asked whether elections will be held or not but Pakistan is headed towards the general election and this is the third election which will ensure the democratic process,” Major General Ghafoor said.
Stating that “3,71,000 personnel will be deployed on election day with two soldiers inside each polling station and two outside,” he said. “This is not the first time that troops will be deployed to overlook the election process.”
“The armed forces have rendered services during previous elections as well,” Maj Gen Ghafoor upheld, adding that a total of 20,831 polling stations have been declared sensitive.
Regarding overlooking the process of the printing of ballot papers, he maintained, “We only have to transport the ballot papers in a secure manner and will not be involved in anything else.
“We will not take over the printing material, the ECP staff will handle that,” the DG ISPR clarified.
However, he assured that troops will remain deployed at printing presses to ensure no ballot papers are printed after.
“In Rawalpindi we have established an army election support centre, headed by a three-star general, to coordinate and if needed communicate with the ECP,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said.
He further revealed that the ECP has issued a code of conduct for the military.
“We are bound to implement the code of conduct issued by the ECP when executing our duties,” the DG ISPR said. “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,” he maintained.
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.
Maj Gen Ghafoor also requested the media to not question the troops deployed at polling stations. “I’d like to request media persons to refrain from approaching troops deployed at the stations,” he said.
“We do not have any political party or alignment and are working only for the country,” he said.
The DG ISPR also urged the nation to come out and vote. “No matter who you support, come out and vote for them,” he said, adding that he hopes for the voting turnout to increase.