Govt to ensure free, fair, transparent, peaceful polls: Ali

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Islamabad

Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Barrister Syed Ali Zafar Thursday said the caretaker government would do its utmost to ensure free, fair, transparent and peaceful general election.
In an interview with Pakistan Television, he said there were concerns that elections could be delayed over election forms, delimitation of constituencies and issues due to FATA reforms. However, the elections would not be delayed over these legal issues as these would be settled, he added.
The minister said Supreme Court solved the issue by ordering that an affidavit would be added to the nomination forms. This removed objections of the Election Commission as well as the candidates.
Ali Zafar said delimitation of constituencies was necessary as the constituencies should be compact and not in the shape of islands. There were some mistakes in delimitation of constituencies which needed to be rectified, he added. He said the caretaker government, formed for a certain period, would facilitate the Election Commission. He said according to the Constitution, the elections should be held within 60 days. “Delimitation of constituencies was important, if it was not done, it will deprive the voters of their right.”
Ali Zafar said the caretaker government would only look into the short term issues and not take permanent decisions, adding it was not their mandate to take long term decisions. Talking about security in elections, he said armed forces and other security forces would fulfill their constitutional obligations, if the need arose.
He said all the political parties would be given level playing field to run their campaign in the elections.
Article 19 of the Constitution gave fundamental right of freedom of expression. As per that article nobody could give statement against the army, judiciary and behave indecently and immorally, he added.
He said power load shedding was an issue and all the information would be taken from the Ministry of Water and Power and facts and figures would be put before the public.
The Cabinet extensively discussed the issue of economy, he said adding, “Our economy has a lot of potential and we can go a long way.”
The minister said a judgment about fair polls could be made when the elections were over. “At the end we want that our conduct of elections should be appreciated.” Ali Zafar said the government was willing to listen to the criticism as it would help it perform better.
He said law and order was a provincial subject and the federal government would continuously consult with the provincial governments on daily basis.
The information minister said the Federal Cabinet met on Thursday and discussed economy, law and order, upcoming general election, legal issues facing the Election Commission and power load shedding in detail.
The caretaker prime minister had an experience of elections and the six-member cabinet would take all steps that would facilitate the Election Commission.
The minister said under the FATA reforms, members of provincial assemblies in FATA would be elected after one year and they could cast their vote to elect the chief minister. The minister said elections in Balochistan could not be put off due to weather, as in July there would be a difference of around two degrees centigrade as compared to weather in June and August.
To a question about court cases against politicians, he said everybody was equal before the law and the trials should be conducted according to provisions in the Constitution. “We will not interfere in the cases. We want that everybody is treated fairly.”
The minister said as a state broadcaster Pakistan Television should give equal time to all the political parties.
The institutions were independent and they should be empowered, he said adding, if the institutions were not empowered, they could not hold others accountable.
NAB should investigate and prosecute others but if it was doing something wrong, it should also be held accountable.
The minister said political parties should be consulted on matters related to elections. If anybody comes with a complaint, the caretaker government would respond and resolve the issue.
To a question about recent attacks on journalists, he said the incidents occurred during a democratic era, adding the issue should be debated and causes of such attacks should be ascertained.
He said such attacks on journalists were not acceptable and were condemnable.
To a question about formation of the caretaker government, he said this arrangement before elections suited Pakistan, adding Bangladesh ended the system of caretaker government in 1992, while Malaysia was also considering pros and cons of that system.—APP

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