Pakistani army vows to protect voters in landmark election

ISLAMABAD Thu May 9, 2013 11:29am IST

A man walks past rows of election ballot boxes, before they are transported to polling offices, in the premises of the district city court in Karachi May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

A man walks past rows of election ballot boxes, before they are transported to polling offices, in the premises of the district city court in Karachi May 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's military said on Thursday it will send tens of thousands of troops to polling stations and counting centres to prevent the Taliban from disrupting Saturday's election after the insurgent group's attacks in the campaign killed over 100 people.

The election, already Pakistan's most violent, marks the first time that a civilian government will complete a full term and hand over to another administration.

The Taliban says it regards the elections as un-Islamic and its attacks have prevented candidates from the three main parties from holding large rallies. Instead they have relied on door-to-door campaigning or small meetings in private homes or on street corners.

Army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said 300,000 security officials, including 32,000 troops, have been deployed in Punjab, the most populous province.

"Definitely they (intelligence agencies) have reports and obviously they have made a plan to counter that," he said, referring to security threats from the Taliban.

Another 96,000 security forces would be deployed in the northwest of Pakistan, where the Taliban operate from strongholds.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who is calling on Pakistan to reconsider its support for the U.S. war on Islamist militancy and wants to introduce free-market economics, is seen as the frontrunner in the election race.

His Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) has capitalised on widespread frustrations with the outgoing government led by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 66-year history, either through coups or from behind the scenes.

(Created by Michael Georgy; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

FILED UNDER:

Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fund Raising

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

Hacking Attack

Hacking Attack

N.Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage