All steps taken to ensure transparent polls: minister


–Shaukat Javaid says army personnel deployed at sensitive polling stations given magisterial powers

–Says reporters given conditional permission to visit polling stations as per former govt’s decision


LAHORE: Punjab Caretaker Home Minister Shaukat Javaid on Tuesday said that the interim government had taken all steps to hold free and fair polls.

In a joint press conference with Minister for Law, Finance and Excise & Taxation Zia Haider Rizvi, the home minister said that Chief Minister Dr Hasan Askari believed in transparent polls and so the caretaker setup had done its best to hold impartial elections while all departments concerned had cooperated with it.

“All cabinet members worked together and the chief minister was not alone,” he said and thanked the heads of all departments for their cooperation. The minister also urged the media to support the caretaker setup if someone criticised it, saying that the government did its job with dedication.

Speaking of the security arrangements for Wednesday, the minister said that 6,000 polling stations had been declared sensitive.

He said that four army soldiers would be deployed at every sensitive polling station while at least 10 policemen would also perform their duties there. “Magisterial powers will only be used by the army officers,” he said.

The home minister also said that CTD and other law-enforcement agencies had arrested several terrorists from the province and it was a proof of the authorities’ vigilance to counter any terror bids.

Replying to question, Shaukat said that all reporters having Election Commission cards would be allowed to go into the polling stations, but without cameras, and they would not be allowed to stay there for more than 10 minutes.

“The caretaker government has not introduced any new rules for the elections,” clarified the minister, adding that the former government had made the decision to ban cameras.

To another question, Shaukat replied that all prisoners of the federal government were kept in Adiala Jail. “Nawaz Sharif is a prisoner of the federal government and that is why he has been lodged there.”

“Earlier a mist fan and later an air-conditioner was provided to Nawaz and his food is being supplied from his home,” he said, adding that according to the medical board report, Nawaz was generally fit and would be shifted to a hospital if it was recommended in the detailed medical report.

Reiterating that caretaker government was not supporting any political party, he said that 832 cases had been registered during electioneering against political activists, whereas 192 cases had been registered against the workers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), 23 against Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and 115 against independent candidates.

“As many as 205 workers of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and 145 of the PTI were arrested while all political workers were released on bail,” he added.