PM forms high-level committee for election security

Army soldiers arrive at the premises of the distribution point where electoral workers gather to collect election materials, ahead of the general election in Rawalpindi, on July 24, 2018. — Reuters
Army soldiers arrive at the premises of the distribution point where electoral workers gather to collect election materials, ahead of the general election in Rawalpindi, on July 24, 2018. — Reuters
  • Communications minister to head committee.
  • The committee comprises seven members.
  • It comes concerns were raised over security.

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has formed a high-level committee to oversee security for the February 8 elections as political actors voice concerns about the law and order situation.

Federal Minister for Communications, Railways, and Maritime Affairs Shahid Ashraf Tarar will head the seven-member committee, as per a notification from the Prime Minister’s Office.

The committee includes the Ministry of Interior’s secretary and the chief secretaries of all four — Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab — provinces, the notification mentioned.

The committee’s formation comes just days ahead of the elections as several politicos have either demanded their security be beefed up or a delay in elections due to the uncertain law and order situation.

Previous election campaigns have witnessed spasms of violence, with scores of candidates and voters targeted by bombings and gun attacks.

Last week, an independent candidate running for the provincial assembly was killed alongside two aides when his car was hit by a spray of gunfire as he campaigned in the province, police said.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, in an order issued by his office, caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Maqbool Baqar warned “there have been multiple reports of attacks on candidates” running for the election.

Some have been “kidnapped in broad daylight”, he said, describing it as a “rising tide of crime”.

Last year saw casualties hit a six-year high with more than 1,500 civilians, security forces, and militants killed, according to the Islamabad-based Center for Research and Security Studies.

The biggest militant threat to the country is the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Islamabad has accused Kabul’s Taliban government of harbouring TTP fighters, allowing them to strike on Pakistani soil with impunity. Kabul has consistently denied the allegations.

In a bid to ensure security, the government will saturate Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with thousands of security forces before the February 8 general election.

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