No direct role of Army in elections: Senior Pakistani official

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Pakistani Army will have no direct role in the country’s July 25 general elections and will work on the Election Commission’s directives to conduct peaceful polls, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Thursday.
Asif Ghafoor, Director General of the Army’s media wing ISPR, rejected reports that the Army will work independently during the elections and clarified that its personnel will follow the poll body’s instructions.
"There were some rumours that Army personnel had been issued ‘different’ orders — this is completely baseless," he said at the special session of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior. 
"We do not have any link with the elections… we are only working on the Election Commission’s directives to improve the law and order situation. We do not have a direct role in polls."
Ghafoor then elaborated on the election duty assigned to Army personnel, saying: "The armed forces have always lent support to civil institutions. The security situation is being improved in the entire country to hold elections, Dawn online reported.
"Three hundred and seventy one thousand Army soldiers will be deployed at the countrywide polling stations. The Army is also performing its duty at the printing press (for ballots)."
However, he said that the Army’s role in providing security for elections did not mean that it would also take direct responsibility for the well being of politicians.
Stressing on complying with the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct, Ghafoor said the troops also have to perform the police’s duties until the latter’s capabilities improve. 
"We took extraordinary measures when polls were held in Afghanistan. Now the Afghan President has assured the Prime Minister and Army chief, over the phone, of cooperation." 
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob said that the Army personnel deployed across the country on the polling day will work under presiding officers. He further stated that a written code of conduct was in place to this effect.
He said that Army personnel will be liable to inform the presiding officer and returning officer if anyone attempts to fill ballot boxes, after which the prescribed method will be followed. "Troops will only aid in holding peaceful polls," he said.
The Senate session was presided over by the Committee Chairperson Senator Rehman Malik. Federal Interior and Defence Secretaries, ECP secretary and several other government officials were also present in the meeting.

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