Elections 2024:
Pak Cabinet decides
deployment of army,
civil armed forces

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ISLAMABAD: In order to conduct smooth and peaceful process of election on February 8, the Federal Cabinet on Tuesday approved the deployment of Pakistan army and the civil armed forces. These forces will perform duties at sensitive constituencies and polling stations, and will also act as a rapid response force.

The decision came following the submission of a summary by the federal Interior Ministry in the meeting. The cabinet which met here under the chairmanship of Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, also discussed in detail the recommendation with respect to the digitization and restructuring of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

The fresh measure came a few days after PM Kakar constituted a seven-member committee for the smooth conduct of the upcoming elections as well as overseeing their security arrangements.

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar chairs a cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar chairs a cabinet meeting in Islamabad on Tuesday.

A day earlier, interim Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said threat alerts had nothing to do with polls and asserted that general elections would be held on Feb 8. “In the past, general elections were successfully conducted despite security issues in the country […] there is no problem in conducting the upcoming February 8 general elections as well,” he had said.

Acknowledging the presence of threats in various parts of the country, top government and security officials had assured the ECP last week of their readiness to hold general elections.

Reviewing preparations for the Feb 8 polls, with a focus on the law and order situation, the meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja was given assurances that all arrangements were in place to hold elections and deal with “any kind of situation”.

Section 144 imposed in Punjab

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has imposed Section 144 across the province till Feb 12 after reports on “threats to the law and order situation” during the elections emerged.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the district administration to issue orders in the public interest that may place a ban on an activity for a specific period of time.

In a notification dated Jan 22 Punjab Home Department Secretary Shakeel Ahmed said it was reported that “there exist threat to law and order situation and public peace” in the province during the Feb 8 polls.

“In the wake of these elections, a large number of political gatherings, rallies, corner meetings are likely to be held by the contesting candidates and political parties for 141 and 297 seats of National and provincial assembly, respectively, all over Punjab which may serve as soft targets for any desperate act by terrorists and miscreants,” he stated.

Further, he highlighted that considering historical precedents, the likelihood of conflicts between competing candidates and opposing political parties or groups in various regions could not be ruled out.

“The ensuing security milieu demands extraordinary vigilance and extensive security Measures to pre-empt any untoward incident, in the larger interest of internal security,” the notification added.

Shakeel further stated that under the directions, there would be a ban on displaying weapons including licensed ones, except those by law enforcement agencies. All types of firing and violation of any clause of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s code of conduct would also be prohibited.

After a thorough discussion of the proposals made in light of the opinions of the cabinet members regarding the restructuring and digitization of the FBR, the prime minister directed to establish of an inter-ministerial committee under the supervision of the caretaker finance minister.

Other members of the committee will include federal ministers for privatisation, foreign affairs, commerce, energy, law and justice and information technology. The committee will present its recommendations regarding these proposals in the next meeting of the federal cabinet.

The cabinet appreciated the efforts of Finance Minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in increasing the tax revenue and improving the tax-GDP ratio. The cabinet also admired the finance minister for presenting detailed proposals regarding the administrative structure of the FBR.

The prime minister and all members of the cabinet unanimously supported the proposals regarding the FBR reforms and reiterated that the caretaker government should play its due role in concluding the FBR reform agenda.

On the recommendation of the finance ministry, the federal cabinet approved the extension of the tenure of Tahir Hussain Qureshi as the President of SME Bank for three months or till the formal closure of the institution.

The cabinet, On the recommendation of the Ministry of National Health, appointed Principal Shifa College of Dentistry, Shifa-e-Milat University Islamabad Prof. Dr. Anwar Ali Shah as the representative of medical colleges in the registration board of Islamabad Health Regulatory Authority.

Likewise, the cabinet also approved the appointment of Dr. Dur e Shehwar Faisal as the representative of the Private Healthcare Establishment Sector in the Board.

On the recommendation of the Ministry of National Health, the cabinet also approved the formation of a search committee for the appointment of the vice-chancellor of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University Islamabad. The minister for national health will head the committee.

The cabinet also approved the decisions taken in the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) held on January 9, 2024. Similarly, the cabinet approved the decisions taken in the meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases held on January 9 and 17, 2024.