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Terrorism biggest threat to elections: Sethi

30 March, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi on Friday said terrorism was the biggest threat to the upcoming elections, in the first acknowledgement by any high-profile figure in the interim set-up.

Sethi told journalists at his maiden press conference at the Punjab House that intelligence reports indicated that terrorist elements in the country were bent upon sabotaging the general election.

The caretaker chief minister admitted that stopping terrorists from committing any terrorist act was not possible, but assured that his government will do its best to prevent any subversive acts in the province. "The threat of terrorism in the upcoming elections is very real. But, we will do what we could to avert any untoward incident."

Sethi said he will be the first to quit if any attempt was made to extend the tenure of the caretaker government. This is for the first time in the history of the country that independent, constitutional and neutral caretaker governments have been established at centre and in the provinces, he said.

"I am ninety percent sure that I will succeed in achieving the objective of holding free, fair and transparent elections," he added.

The caretaker chief minister said he will obey the orders of the Election Commission of Pakistan, chief justice of Pakistan and the chief justice of the Lahore High Court only.

He said that his government is constantly in touch with the Election Commission and he has set up a special cell in his secretariat for this purpose. He said that his government will not interfere in any policy or development work and only such steps will be taken that are essential for ensuring transparent and impartial elections

He promised that his government will address reservations of all the political parties and try to live up to their trust. He also sought cooperation of the political parties and the media in holding of transparent elections.

Sethi said that he has met PML-N president Nawaz Sharif, former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, PML-Q President Ch Shujaat Hussain, Ch Pervaiz Elahi and Jamaat-e-Islami chief Munawar Hassan to discuss holding of fare and transparent elections.

"I am pleased to disclose that all political leaders have assured me of their cooperation. Nobody demanded any favour," he said and added that MQM chief Altaf Hussain also phoned him and assured him of his support.

The caretaker chief minister said he will reshuffle the whole bureaucracy and administrative machinery in the province to ensure that prime objective of holding free and fair elections is achieved.

"The Election Commission has given me full authority to make sweeping changes in the bureaucracy," he said and added that he needs his own team of competent people to fulfil the task he has been assigned with.

To a question about the caretaker cabinet, Sethi said it will comprise only five to six impartial people. "No one will have any objection over my team," he hoped.

Later, Sethi held a meeting with Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan at his residence in Islamabad. The caretaker chief minister reiterated his commitment to take all possible steps for holding transparent and impartial elections in the province.

Sethi told Imran Khan that his meetings with political leaders are aimed at discussing proposals with regard to holding general elections in a transparent and impartial manner. He assured the PTI chief that he will try to come up to the confidence reposed by political parties in him and remain impartial. He said that if any political party expressed reservations, those would be removed immediately.

Imran Khan while talking on the occasion said that independent judiciary, impartial Election Commission and caretaker set-up has been established at the federal and the provincial level for the first time in the country and expressed the hope that elections will be held in a transparent and impartial manner.

He also expressed his confidence that Najam Sethi will succeed in holding free and fair elections in Punjab.


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