Pakistani Army says it will ensure peaceful polls

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 08, 2013 09:00 hrs

Islamabad, March 8 (IANS) Pakistan's powerful army Friday assured the country's election commission of its complete support for the peaceful conduct of the upcoming parliamentary polls, the military said.

The assurance comes at a time when a recent series of deadly bomb attacks in parts of Pakistan have raised concerns over peaceful elections, likely to take place in May, Xinhua reported.

Cabinet ministers say the current National Assembly will be dissolved March 16 and a caretaker government will supervise elections within two months.

As the election campaign slowly gains momentum, concerns are also growing about peaceful elections in view of the attacks by the Taliban and its affiliated banned extremist groups.

The Secretary of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) visited the Military Operations Directorate at the General Headquarters on Friday and issues related to provision of security during the elections were discussed, the military said.

"Army authorities assured all possible support to ECP to ensure peaceful environment for the elections," an Inter-Services Public Relations statement said.

More details of sensitive areas and polling stations will be worked out by ECP and shared in next meeting scheduled after announcement of election dates, the statement added.

Opposition political parties were concerned about possible security challenges and also demanded deployment of troops at sensitive areas to check any possible threats.

Days before the visit of the members of the election commission to the army's headquarters, the army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, had personally assured Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim of the army's full support for peaceful and transparent elections.

Gen. Kayani also told journalists last month that he supports the idea of holding a free, fair and transparent parliamentary election leading to a peaceful transfer of power in the country.

"We will accept the election results wholeheartedly. If the people elect good or bad people, it is not our responsibility. It is our constitutional responsibility to support whoever forms government," Gen Kayani had said.

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