LAHORE - Information Minister Syed Ali Zafar has reiterated government’s resolve to hold elections on time, ruling out any possibility of delay because of the ongoing heated political environment.

Talking to journalists at ‘Meet the Press’ event at Lahore Press Club on Sunday, Zafar said the court decision against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz would not affect holding of the polls. He said the Constitution did not permit delay in elections unless and until emergence of an extraordinary situation.

“Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz will be arrested on their return to country if they failed to get any relief from the court,” he said. The minister said the court order will be strictly implemented and it was responsibility of every citizen to respect the law and obey the court orders. He said government was fully coopering with institutions and will never influence them, including the judiciary and the NAB.

To a question, he said the government will take decision in the light of rules and regulations to put the names of former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and his sister on the ECL. He added the committee formed by the interim government on the ECL discussed around 60 cases and sent its recommendations to the cabinet for a final decision.

To another query, he said that name of Zulfi Bokhari (a friend of PTI Chairman Imran Khan) had been put on the blacklist as a temporary arrangement. Had Zulfi’s name put on the ECL, he could not have gone to Saudi Arabia without the cabinet's permission, he said.

The minister expressed resolve to conduct free, fair and impartial elections and give free access to local and foreign media to observe and monitor the polling process on the election day. He said the government held two meetings with the Election Commission to discuss the issue of media access to polling stations and so far things were heading in the positive direction.

The minister spoke at length about the water shortage issue and said that previous governments failed to build any mega dam in the country. He said a report compiled in 1965 asked for building 14 to 20 water reservoirs but no past government paid serious attention to this issue.

“We only built two mega dams (Tarbella, Mangla) in the past. Other nations spent 20 to 25 percent of their development budget on the water sector, but Pakistan allocated only five to seven per cent for water reservoirs,” he said.

He said the government has compiled a list of water experts and contacted them. The experts, he said, had sought one-month time to provide a guideline document to solve the country's water problems.