Pakistan’s military said it would deploy more than 370,000 troops to guard the general election later this month, but said it was not meddling in the democratic process. Major General Asif Ghafoor told a news conference that more than three times as many troops would be deployed than in the 2013 elections, and they would be stationed inside and outside polling stations. Campaigning has so far been dominated by allegations the military has run a multi-pronged campaign to undermine the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party of ousted former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, and muzzled the media. Sharif, who last week was sentenced to 10 years for corruption offences, says the army is trying tip the balance in favour of Imran Khan’s PTI party.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said the military would ensure the elections were free, fair and transparent. He said: “We don’t have a political party. We don’t have a loyalty,”
Pakistan has been under military rule for nearly half of its 71-year-history. The July 25 poll is seen as a test of civilian supremacy which should see only the country’s second ever democratic transition of power.
Mr Sharif has vowed to return to Pakistan on Friday to appeal against his sentence.