The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has requested the deployment of Pakistan Army and Sindh Rangers troops for the upcoming by-election in NA-245 Karachi, according to a notification issued on Wednesday.
Polling is scheduled on August 21 on NA-245 Karachi while the local bodies’ election in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions will be held on August 28. The decision to deploy the troops for the by-election was taken to maintain the law and order situation in the metropolis keeping in view the violence that took place during the NA-240 by-poll. According to the notification: “In pursuance of Article 218(3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it is the duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan to organise and conduct elections and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law and that corrupt practices are guarded against. According to the schedule, by-election is to be held in the constituency NA-245 Karachi East-IV on August 21, 2022.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan, in terms of Article 220 of the constitution, Section 5, read with Section 193 of the Elections Act, 2017, hereby authorises that each designated officer incharge of [Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and Pakistan Army troops] deployed for providing security (standby/QRF mode only) from August 20 to August 22, 2022, of the above-said constituency for the peaceful and smooth conduct of the poll of the constituency will exercise powers of magistrate first class for the entire duration of their deployment in respect of offences mentioned in Section 171 (capturing of a polling station or polling booth) punishable under Section 174 of the aforesaid Act and to take cognisance of any such offences under Section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code and to try such offences in a summary way in accordance with the provisions of the said Code relating to summary trials.
“The security personnel of [Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and Pakistan Army troops] are deployed (standby/QRF mode only) from August 20 to August 22, 2022, in the above-said constituency for the peaceful and smooth conduct of the poll, while performing the security duties they are supposed to first report to the presiding officer of any irregularity or malpractice they observe outside the polling station and act according to the instructions issued by the officer in that regard.
“In case the presiding officer does not act to prevent the commission of any reported irregularity or malpractice, the security staff will immediately bring the matter to the notice of the designated officer incharge of [Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) and Pakistan Army troops] of an area of the said constituency for action in the light of the powers delegated to them and also inform the returning officer concerned.”
Meanwhile, a high-level meeting to discuss how to maintain peace and security during the upcoming by-election and local government polls was held with Sindh police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon in the chair. Senior police officials, like Karachi’s police chief Jawed Alam Odho, were at the meeting. The officials said that during the meeting at the Central Police Office, the second phase of the LG elections in Karachi and Hyderabad, as well as the by-election for Karachi’s NA-245 constituency, were discussed, along with a thorough review of all peace and security issues.
Odho told the meeting that for the second phase of the LG elections and the NA-245 by-poll, they have devised security plans at range and district levels, and ensured deployment accordingly, with citywide picketing and snap checking. He gave a detailed briefing, with special reference to measures like monitoring. Ghulam Nabi Memon said that not only should security be kept on high alert during the second phase of the LG elections, but all matters and measures like monitoring, police patrolling, and strict surveillance must also be ensured, while similar measures must be taken for the by-poll.
He issued instructions that security and deployment must be ensured according to the plan, and that a peaceful environment must be ensured at every polling station, with complete police control in terms of maintaining law and order. He said the manpower available at the district level must be given a regular briefing about their responsibilities, while the anti-riot reserve and Rapid Response Force platoons must be kept ready and alert in the respective districts to deal with any possible emergency.