ISLAMABAD - Expressing his commitment to hold free and fair general elections, Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso on Thursday directed the Ministry of Interior to firm up all the necessary arrangements to achieve this national objective.

Khoso made these observations at a briefing given to him by the senior officials of the Ministry of Interior on the overall internal security situation in the country as well as arrangements made in connection with the holding of general elections.

In response to the Prime Minister's query over reports regarding delay in the processing of the passport applications, he was informed that 600,000 applications for renewal of passports were pending because of shortage of laminate pads.

In this connection, Secretary Interior Khawaja Saddique informed the Prime Minister that tenders for laminate pads have been concluded and the firm whose bids were found to be the lowest has promised to provide 500,000 laminate pads within a week.

The Prime Minister also directed the Ministry of Interior to ensure that the pendency is cleared at the earliest so that the common man is provided relief. The Secretary Interior assured the Prime Minister that in compliance to his instructions every efforts will be made to improve the situation within a week. 

Khoso was informed that the Ministry of Interior was fully geared-up and was making all necessary arrangements including collection and pooling of intelligence and round the clock monitoring of the situation with the objective of maintaining peace during the election campaign and on the election day.

He was also informed that 85,000 polling stations are likely to be established for holding of elections.

In this connection, sensitive polling stations and areas will be identified so that the polling can be carried out peacefully in those places.

The Prime Minister said that the general elections is a big challenge and directed that the administration and law-enforcement agencies should remain alert and impartial to ensure that the forthcoming elections are fair in every possible manner.

The meeting was attended by the senior officials of the Prime Minister's Secretariat and the Ministry of Interior.