Pak EC wants army supervision of general election

Islamabad: Pakistan's upcoming general election may be held under the supervision of the army.

The country's Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin Ibrahim today recommended that the election should be conducted completely under the supervision of the army in order to maintain law and order.

Chairing a meeting of senior officials of the federal and provincial governments to assess the law and order situation ahead of the polls, Ibrahim suggested that armed soldiers should be deployed at all polling stations.

The soldiers should remain in the polling stations till the results are announced, he said.

Though the Election Commission has held several meetings in recent weeks to prepare for the polls expected to be held in April or May, this was the first meeting that focussed on security issues.

"The election has to be, of necessity, just and fair. The one single most important problem is maintenance of law and order," Ibrahim told the meeting.

"If law and order is maintained, there is no reason that the election should not be free and fair," he said.

Ibrahim noted that army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had assured him of complete cooperation for the electoral process.

The meeting was attended by the Defence Secretary, Interior Secretary, the heads of the Frontier Corps and Pakistan Rangers and Chief Secretaries of the four provinces.

The Election Commission will prepare a comprehensive security plan for the polls following consultations with stakeholders.

The Election Commission asked security agencies to give suggestions for maintaining law and order during the election.

The poll panel has been mulling the option of roping in the army to help maintain law and order during the polls.

The government is yet to announce a date for the next general elections.

The government will complete its five-year term on March 16 and leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's Party have said the polls will be held before May 16.