KARACHI - President Asif Ali Zardari has directed the caretaker government to initiate recruitments in the Sindh police so that needs of the law-enforcement force could be fulfilled to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the province.

He stated this while chairing a meeting of the provincial caretaker government at Bilawal House here on Sunday. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (r) Zahid Qurban Alvi and provincial ministers attended the meeting. The governor and the chief minister introduced the cabinet members to the president.

The president, while felicitating the cabinet members, expressed the hope that they would contribute to free, fair and transparent elections in the province. The cabinet discussed the issues, including equipping the police force with modern facilities and free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections in the province.

Sindh Caretaker Information Minister Ms Noor-ul-Huda Shah, in her short briefing to the media on the cabinet decisions, said that President Asif Ali Zardari, appreciating the role of the caretaker government, directed it to ensure free, fair and independent and peaceful elections.

She further said President Zardari directed the interim government to equip the police force with modern facilities to ensure foolproof security of polling stations and poling staff during the election process.

The information minister told the media that President Zardari underlined the role of police in ensuring security during the upcoming polls.

“President Zardari dispelled the rumours of delay in the elections or extension in the period of the caretaker setup and declared that general elections would be held on time”, information minister said. She added the president had ruled out even a single day’s delay in the polls.

Ms Noor-ul-Huda Shah said President Zardari, while assuring support from the federal government to meet the needs of the police force, directed the caretaker government to initiate recruitment process in the Sindh police immediately, so that security needs could be met during the election process.

The information minister further said President Zardari also directed the provincial caretaker government to reduce the existing duty timing of 10 to 12 hours of police force to six hours.

Meanwhile, a member of the caretaker cabinet who was part of the meeting told The Nation that President Zardari also talked about residential, health and insurance facilities for police.

President underscored the need of building multi-storey flats to meet the residential needs of the police, besides chalking out a plan to ensure educational facilities of the children of policemen as well their insurance.

According to unconfirmed reports airing in media, President Zardari in soft words went angry about the way of scrutiny and questions being asked by the returning officers from the candidates for the next polls.

The president said the Election Commission of Pakistan even didn’t accept his authority, but he remained silent and didn’t interfere in the process as the country was in a transitional process towards strengthening democracy.

Home Minister Shakaib Qureshi, Information Minister Ms Noor-ul-Huda Shah, Nawab Qalb Hussain Lahori, Muhammad Sharif Ansari, Sardar Khan Ghoto, Raees Ghulam Qasim Jaskani, Dr Junaid Ali Shah, Sardar Muhammad Yaseen Malik, Syed Shabbir Zaidi, S Khalid Tawab, Dr NK Luhana, Ms Anis Haroon, Khalid Latif, Abdul Qadeer Chohan, Mian Zahid Hussain, Haroon Farooqi, Sardar Haji Khan Chachar and Sharafuddin Memon attended the meeting.