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Army not influencing elections: DG ISPR

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From Our Correspondent

RAWALPINDI: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major Asif Ghafoor has said that the military will only support the electoral process without playing any ‘direct role’ in the conduct of the polls.

Amid allegations that ‘aliens’ –a term used for military officials– are intervening in polls, the military spokesperson held a press conference here yesterday in which he dispelled the impression, saying the army will fulfill its duties in “non-political and impartial manner”.

As elections come near, the political parties, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have started calling out the military for ‘influencing’ the polls what they call as ‘pre-poll rigging’.  The PML-N chief, Nawaz Sharif, has mounted his criticism of powers-that-be and accused establishment of forcing PML-N leaders to change their loyalties.

In a reply to candidates switching loyalties and joining a particular party in droves, the DG said, “Has there ever been an election in which candidates haven’t jumped ship?”

He also said that a PML-N candidate from Multan — who had accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of pressuring him into switching parties but then backtracked saying it had, in fact, been the Agriculture department — has been investigated by the Agriculture Department for around two years for alleged misdoings during a past tenure there.

Gen Ghafoor further said the military will execute its duties in line with a code of conduct issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), adding, its top priority is to maintain peace and security in the country.

The ISPR chief reminded that this was not the first time that the forces were being deployed for election duty. He said in 1997, 192,000 troops had been delegated on duty to oversee 25,000 polling stations for what he termed a “full deployment”.

The military spokesperson said that there are questions about elections taking place or not. “I am constantly asked whether elections will be held or not but Pakistan is headed towards the general election and this is the third election which will ensure the democratic process,” Gen Ghafoor said.

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