ISLAMABAD - Reiterating the government’s resolve to create an atmosphere conducive to free, fair and credible elections, Caretaker Federal Information Mi nister Arif Nizami made it loud and clear that no one would be allowed to subvert the forthcoming polls.

Briefing media persons on the second caretaker federal cabinet meeting, Arif Nizami said the government would take all possible measures to provide security to the contesting candidates beside provide peaceful atmosphere to the general public to take part in the upcoming general elections with a view to making the whole exercise credible and transparent.

To a question about the expected boycott by some key political parties in the face of the growing terrorist attacks on the contestants, the information minister said that despite being the target of attacks, Awami National Party Chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and Ghulam Ahmad Bilour had termed the elections the only option, adding such acts of terrorism could not deter them from participating in the coming polls.

Arif Niazmi dispelled the impression that security had been withdrawn from some of the politicians and said the government would take measures to provide adequate security to the contestants and take steps, in consultation with the provincial governments, to bring overall law and order situation in the country under control.

To another question, he said besides the law-enforcement agencies, Pakistan Army’s help would also be sought where needed to conduct the elections in a smooth and peaceful manner.

To yet another question about the trial of former army chief Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution, the federal information minister said the matter was sub judice and he was not be in a position to comment, but quickly added that any direction of the Supreme Court in the case would be implemented in letter and spirit.

To another question, he said the role of the caretaker government was that of a facilitator to the Election Commission of Pakistan in holding the elections in a free and transparent fashion. He reiterated his government’s resolve to come up to the expectations of the people of Pakistan. He said attempts on the lives of Mir Sanaullah Zehri, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and others were part of the conspiracy to sabotage the election process, but the government would not allow anyone to derail the process. On the interior minister’s statement about grading of politicians for provision of security, he said the grading could only be done on the threat perception and it had nothing to do with the level of importance.

He said for the first time a neutral caretaker government had been installed, an independent election commission formed and a vibrant and proactive judiciary was in place, so there was no reason to doubt the intentions of the establishment. He said an independent election commission was formed in the light of Charter of Democracy signed by two major political players in the country and the caretaker government could not issue any directions to the commission. “We are here to assist and facilitate the Election Commission,” he added.

To another question, he said the caretakers could only take short-term measures to control terrorist activities and it would be the responsibility of the next elected regime to adopt long-term steps to end “terrorist factories”. Nizami said the PM had directed the interior minister and the law-enforcing agencies to beef up security and bring normalcy to the country.

The caretaker information minister said the federal cabinet had discussed the prevailing energy crisis and the minister for water and power had also given a detailed briefing on the electricity shortfall in the country and the measures to narrow down the widening gap between the demand and supply.

Similarly, the wheat procurement matter was also discussed at the meeting and it was decided that the government would procure 7.91 million tonnes of wheat during the current season. The cabinet was informed about the wheat and sugar export to the neighbouring states and it was also heartening to know that the country would start exporting pulses during the current season, he revealed.

Arif Nizami claimed that right now not even a single heroin factory was functioning in Pakistan, adding the cabinet was also briefed on the narcotics control measures taken by the government. Earlier, in his opening remarks at the federal cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso said the Constitution gave a single-point mandate to the caretaker government to conduct free‚ fair and transparent elections. The prime minister pledged to act in a non-partisan manner and assist the Election Commission.

He condemned the recent wave of terrorism in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, saying those responsible for these terrorist acts would be brought to book soon.

The cabinet directed the law-enforcing agencies to beef up security. It also urged the provincial governments to keep a vigil on any suspicious activity and evolve a mechanism to counter any such terrorist act with iron hands.

Nizami said the federal government would extend all-out assistance to the provincial governments and all possible measures would be taken to improve the law and order situation in the country.