Caretaker Interior Minister Malik Habib Khan told the Senate on Tuesday that the interim government is committed to providing foolproof security across the board, adhering to the guidelines set forth by the election commission.
In a brief statement, Khan said the law and order situation is the provincial government’s responsibility, and that the federal government would ensure its full support for the purpose.
“A complete, impartial security guideline has been provided to every security agency and they will fulfill their mandate to implement [it],” he said, adding that it was essential for security to be provided to everyone, regardless of political affiliation.
Additionally, Khan informed the house that a meeting between ECP officials and political leaders will take place soon, specifically to address security concerns of the candidates.
The motion to discuss the security issue during elections was moved by Senator Tahir Hussain Mashhadi on Monday.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani said that it is three secular parties – PPP, Awami National Party, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – that are being terrorised.
“These are liberal, democratic forces. They have a liberal and progressive ideology and philosophy,” said Rabbani. “The targeting of progressive forces, and the silence of the state institutions and other political parties over the issue, is alarming.”
Rabbani claimed that a conspiracy was afoot to marginalise the liberal forces before the forthcoming polls, much like in 2002. “Despite the difficulties, we will continue our struggle and will not let elections be delayed, even for a single day. We will not compromise on principles,” he said.
Moreover, Rabbani questioned why the government has withdrawn security from political leaders when a former dictator (Musharraf) has been enjoying extra security arrangements, despite having abrogated the Constitution twice. Senator Zahid Khan reiterated this stance.
On this note, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said there was no-one to blame for the inefficiency but Pakistan’s very own security apparatus.
Following this vein of discussion, the caretaker ministers present seemed to agree that the interim government did not have the mandate to take any long-term policy decisions. Instead, its task was to facilitate state institutions to hold the general elections within the stipulated time frame.
Minister for Science and Technology Dr Sania Nishtar said that the mandate of the caretaker set-up is to ensure free and fair elections and that all-out efforts are being made in this regard.
“We don’t have any mandate to make any long-term policy decision and the caretaker prime minister told us this during the very first cabinet meeting. We are conscious of that,” she maintained.
In this regard, she said, the caretaker government had no mandate to negotiate with the IMF and World Bank team. However, she added that the meeting in Washington was important and Pakistani representation was essential.
Similarly, the caretaker Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Ahmer Bilal Soofi added that although the government was holding negotiations on renewing the Reko Diq agreement, the caretaker government would not make any concrete decisions.
The house proceedings concluded with directives to meet once again on Thursday.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2013.
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