PR No. 65
Statement by Caretaker Federal Minister for Interior Dr Gohar Ejaz
Islamabad: February 09, 2024

We mention with great satisfaction, the generally peaceful conduct of elections 2024 in Pakistan under exceptional security circumstances. Deployment of hundreds of thousands of regular & civil armed forces, other law enforcement agencies and civilian officials across thousands of square kilometres of varied terrain and harsh weather within a limited time was no mean feat. The successful conduct of the mammoth exercise can only be attributed to the collective efforts of all elements of state. Pakistan is reeling from a sharp spike in terrorism and there were credible reports of terrorist entities such as TTP, Daesh and foreign sponsored militant organisations in Balochistan, among others, trying to create a serious law and order situation by attacking law enforcement agencies and civilians to shake the confidence of the nation and dissuade them from exercising their democratic right. A politically charged environment, a young electorate and public emotions getting out of hand were also serious concerns impinging on the state’s decision making calculus. In the run up to the elections, Armed forces and other law enforcement agencies were proactively involved in intelligence based counter terrorism operations across the country. Many serious incidents were experienced in the last few weeks taking a severe toll on civilians and members of Law enforcement agencies. The deaths of 28 people and serious injuries to 64 others in terrorist incidents just one day prior to the elections forced the state to take several measures for ensuring safety of our citizens. This also included the difficult decision of suspending the mobile phone services across the country to disallow terrorists the means to communicate, coordinate and conduct terrorist operations. Mobile devices are also instrumental in initiating the trigger mechanisms for modern explosive devices for mass casualties. We were fully aware that suspension of mobile services would impact the transmission of election results across Pakistan and delay the process, however, the choice between this delay and safety of our citizens was quite straightforward and the decision was taken. ?To preclude the possibility of IEDs en route to and from the polling stations in sensitive areas especially in KP and Balochistan, proper Bomb Disposal clearances had to be done which consumed substantial time. Physical transportation of election results from widely spread polling stations and especially in distant places in Balochistan, KP and even in rural areas of Punjab and Sindh, with such elaborate security measures was also a laborious and time consuming exercise. Even with such stringent security measures in place, the election day saw 61 incidents of violence including terrorist attacks across Pakistan employing sophisticated weapons and explosive devices which consumed the lives of 16 citizens and caused injuries to 54 others. The results of the elections are as expected and reflect the aspirations of the millions of people who came out in record numbers to vote. All major political entities are generally satisfied with the results which also reflect the changing realities and the mood of the nation, all pointing towards the fact that elections were indeed free and fair. The public still has full recourse to legal options in case of any complaints as per the constitution of Pakistan. We solicit the understanding and support of the nation this day. All institutions involved in this historic exercise, especially the Election Commission of Pakistan which had little control of the security situation, deserve acknowledgement and gratitude rather than criticism and denigration. Those with vested interests would keep instigating divides since they thrive on chaos and disunity. We request the citizens and political leaders to allow elections staff to carry out their duties unhindered and do not cause further delay in the work of Election Commission of Pakistan by blocking roads leading from polling stations to RO offices. Let us work together to achieve great feats together and hope this election heals the nation and becomes the harbinger of prosperity for the people of Pakistan.