LAHORE - Giving a new twist to the already complex situation regarding the conduct of coming elections, Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi on Sunday hinted at his continuance in office if the decision about postponement of polls came from the Supreme Court and the Election Commission of Pakistan.

“Well, I will have to think seriously whether to quit or not if the Supreme Court and the Election Commission decide to postpone the elections,” he said while replying to a question at a dinner he had hosted in honour of senior journalists at 7-Club Road.

When asked that Supreme Court had no authority under the Constitution to postpone the elections, Sethi did not come up with clear-cut answer. He confined himself only to saying that the apex court had been making important decisions in the past, besides taking suo moto notices on vital issues. The election commission, he added, had also an important role in the conduct of elections.

Sethi, however, reiterated his resolve to step down as chief minister if the elections are delayed through unconstitutional means. “I will definitely step down if an effort is made to get the elections postponed through unconstitutional means,” he stressed.

He said people were still facing uncertainty and ask whether elections will be held or not. “And it is my promise to them that general elections will be held on time. I have no political designs and don’t want to stay in power for even one extra day than is required,” he said while showing commitment with his original task of holding elections.

Sethi said elections could only be postponed if all or one of the three major political parties - the PPP, the PML-N and the PTI - decide to boycott the elections.

He said caretaker government will ensure free, fair and impartial elections at any cost and no one will be allowed to create hurdles in this regard. “The top priority of the caretaker government was only to hold transparent and fair elections,” he stressed. 

Sethi said that clean, non-political and impartial ministers had been inducted into the Punjab cabinet.

On kite flying, Sethi said Punjab government had taken no decision so far to celebrate Basant. However, he added, consultations were being made in this regard. He said that provincial government will make no irresponsible or non-serious decision and the public interest will be held uppermost.

He said he believed that caretaker government could discharge its responsibilities with six ministers, therefore, more than one additional departments had been allocated to every minister so that government affairs could be run smoothly.

Earlier, addressing a function of Old Ravians Union at the Oval Ground of Government College University Lahore, the chief minister said that changes were being made in bureaucracy and police to ensure transparent conduct of elections. He said DPOs, RPOs, commissioners and DCOs will also be transferred and the process of changes in administration and police will be completed within next few days.

He said the reshuffling has been started in police and administration and 14 secretaries have been transferred while four secretaries of finance, home, health and schools education departments will continue to work on their posts.

President Old Ravians Union Kamran Lashari, honorary secretary Dr. Khalid Manzoor Butt, vice president Mansoor Feroze Khan, vice president for women Kiran Khurshid, Vice Chancellor Government College University Dr Khaliq uz Zaman and a large number of Old Ravians were present on the occasion.

He said that when he took over as caretaker chief minister, about 200 people gave their bio-data to him for appointment as ministers. He said that he was of the view that Safarish and nepotism was an anathema to merit but it was also a fact that these social evils had taken roots in the society and people considered Safarish as their right and even got irritated if it was not accepted.

He said that he had made it clear on the very first day of his appointment, while talking to journalists, that as long as he was caretaker chief minister he had no friend or relative. He said that Punjab government had no shortage of funds and all out measures will be adopted within available resources to bring improvement in the life of poor and deserving people and some steps had already been taken which will soon yield positive results.

The chief minister said that caretaker government was performing its duties efficiently, however, it was not supposed to formulate policies but only to conduct elections. He said his doors were open to everyone and he tried to respond to every telephone call and SMS. He said he had a deep affiliation with Government College Lahore as he was only 15 when he got admission in the college. Sethi said Government College Lahore totally changed his life as it was not merely a college but a complete institution. He said memories of the able teachers of the college and its campus were still fresh in his mind. The CM said that what he learnt at Government College during his student life had helped him a lot in his practical life. He said he was a forthright and outspoken person and he thought that something should be done in the tenure of caretaker setup for the welfare of the people especially the oppressed segments of the society.

He was of the view that more projects like metro bus should be launched.