Arrangements made for AJK polls: CEC MUZAFFARABAD: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mughal said on Tuesday that adequate arrangements had been made to ensure transparency, fairness and impartiality of general elections to be held on Thursday (tomorrow).
Speaking at a press conference, he said that 17,000 army personnel, 4,000 Frontier Constabulary soldiers, 4,000 policemen from Punjab, 2,000 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and some 5,200 from AJK had been deployed in the 29 constituencies.
Another 4,900 army personnel would be deployed in the 12 constituencies in Pakistan along with personnel of law enforcement agencies, he added.
The CEC said that 14 constituencies in AJK had been declared either sensitive or most sensitive and, therefore, deployment of troops there would be higher than other constituencies.
“At present, the army has been patrolling in every constituency under the command of a colonel,” he said, adding that 25 policemen, led by a deputy superintendent of police, had also been deployed in each constituency to act as a ‘quick response force’.
The CEC said that primarily it was the duty of the Election Commission and the administrative machinery to ensure fairness of polls and the army was acting in aid of them.
“There is a marked difference between army’s deployment in Azad Kashmir and India-held Kashmir… Here the role of the army is that of a facilitator so that people may cast their votes of their own accord whereas in occupied Kashmir the army does it by force,” he said.
He said that transportation of ballot papers would begin on Wednesday under the protection of the army and police. Ballot papers to remote polling stations, such as those in Karachi, interior Sindh and southern Punjab, have been sent in army helicopters.
Mr Mughal noted that political parties had extended cooperation to the commission and there had been no complaint from anywhere yet, primarily because “we were determined from the day one to go by our mandate.”
He said that it was for the first time in the history of the commission that the president of the state had been warned against attending political rallies with official protocol, police guards had been withdrawn from the prime minister and the speaker of the AJK Legislative Assembly and political activists were dislodged from government guesthouses which they were using for electioneering.
He said that only candidates, voters, polling agents and authorised media persons and no irrelevant person, including government functionaries, members of the assemblies or local bodies, would be allowed to enter polling stations in AJK and Pakistan. Directives to this effect have been issued to returning and presiding officers.
The CEC said that election campaign would end by Tuesday midnight, following which any activity would be considered unlawful and handled accordingly under the law.