The Ministry of Interior has expressed its inability to deploy Civil Armed Forces to the extent required by the Election Commission of Pakistan, both in terms of numbers as well as deployment in the static mode, at all sensitive and highly sensitive polling stations in all the constituencies of all the provinces, may not be possible as advised by the MO Directorate, GHQ. The reply came in response to Election Commission of Pakistan’s letter dated 7th February, 2022, regarding deployment of troops of Civil Armed Forces (CAFs) at various polling stations for the conduct of general / bye elections in various constituencies of National / Provincial Assemblies of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. “Unfortunately, the country is going through a difficult security situation as evidenced by recent spike in the incidents of terrorism across the country. The security concerns are multi-dimensional encompassing border security, internal security duties, maintenance of law and order, war against terrorism, protection of key installations, security of foreigners, apprehension of illegal immigrants, anti-gun running / drug trafficking duties and deployment at forward posts to counter the increased terrorist activities by miscreants and anti-state elements,” the ministry stated in a letter written to Omar Hamid Khan, Secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan Islamabad. “Intelligence agencies and NACTA have been issuing threat alerts from time to time regarding the security situation prevailing in the country. These threats have been shared with the Provincial Governments on regular basis in order to take preventive measures to combat the terrorist threat. Regrettably, quite a few incidents of terrorism have still taken place over the last many months leading to loss of precious lives. One of the recent high-profile terrorist acts was perpetrated in Peshawar on 30.1.2023 when the Jummah congregation was targeted in a mosque located in Police lines, Peshawar,” the response stated. “In this context, it is to be noted that the security forces are fully engaged in combating the threats posed by the terrorists to the peace and stability of the country and the life and property of the people. This onslaught of terrorist activities has tested the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to the maximum extent leaving little room to spare them for other activities. It is to be further noted that a terrorist organisation has openly threatened the leaders of political parties and there are apprehensions that political leadership and gatherings could therefore be potential targets during the election campaign,” it further stated. “On receipt of the communication on the subject matter, it was taken up with Military Operations Directorate, GHQ for their comments being a key stakeholder in this regard. It has been conveyed that both Armed and Civil Armed Forces, besides their routine border management tasks, are overwhelmingly committed in addressing internal security challenges in view of the enhanced threat of terrorism across the country. In addition, the troops are also required to undertake widespread deployment for achieving secure conduct of Census-23 from 27th February to 3rd April 2023 across Pakistan as announced by Government of Pakistan. Apropos, their availability for desired deployment during conduct of bye-elections on 64 x National Assembly seats in four provinces and conduct of provincial assembly elections in Punjab and KP remains unfeasible. Nonetheless, given limited deployment needs, Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) can be provided in 2nd tier (QRF mode) for conduct of National Assembly bye-elections in Rajanpur on 26th February 2023,” it continued. “In view of the aforesaid, it is stated that deployment of Civil Armed Forces to the extent required by the Election Commission of Pakistan, both in terms of numbers as well as deployment in the static mode, at all sensitive and highly sensitive polling stations in all the constituencies of all the provinces, may not be possible as advised by the MO Directorate, GHQ,” it concluded.