PESHAWAR  - WAJIDULLAH -

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Caretaker Home Minister Fiaz Ahmad Toru on Tuesday claimed that a comprehensive security plan had been finalised to ensure security of candidates and electorates aimed to hold free, fair and transparent elections in a peaceful atmosphere. "Support of the paramilitary forces under a 'Quick Response Force' will be obtained  if needed during the election process," the caretaker minister said this here while speaking at a news conference. He said that terrorism was not a new phenomenon in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rather it had roots for the last several years. "The government has adopted all possible proactive measures to develop a conducive environment aimed to ensure holding of elections in a peaceful environment," he added.

Flanked by the Caretaker Minister Mosarrat Qadeem and other high officials, he expressed pessimistic gesture about the security situation due to looming threats by militant groups to sabotage the election process.

He said that recent attacks on secular political and independent contenders were a wake-up call for us. "We have devised a security plan in consultation with all relevant stakeholders to amicably tackle the current security situations," Toru informed.

He, however, said that it was quite important that all relevant stakeholders should play their proactive role for holding free and fair polls in a peaceful manner. Under the contingency plan, he informed the Home Department issued clear-cut directives to all police stations to carry out a limited operation on daily basis against the anti-social elements.

Toru further said that effective mechanism of intelligence sharing was key to spoil any subversive activity, stressed coordination among the stakeholders. "It is a well organised nexus of militants, Taliban and anti-social elements that can only be thwarted via close cooperation at all levels," he maintained.

Keeping in view the entire scenario ahead of general elections, he said that police under the Quick Response Force, the volunteers of civil defence and forest guards along with regular police personnel would be deployed to tackle any untoward or subversive activity of anti-state elements.

"We have been provided both overt and covert security but we mainly focus on the covert security," he informed. Besides, he said that all the division and districts had been issued directives to accelerate efforts for security arrangements ahead of elections process. The minister, while giving detail about the number of polling stations, said that out of total 9,031 polling stations around 5,368 had so far declared sensitive while the rest of 3,663 polling stations were normal. "About 59 per cent of total polling stations have been declared sensitive while the rest of 41 per cent are normal," he informed. Similarly, he said that about 40 polling stations were declared sensitive in the North and Southern areas of Chitral and bordering areas.

When asked about postponement of the elections, he categorically said that elections would be held as per schedule on May 11 and no delay could be possible in this regard.