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Caretaker Chief Minister of Sindh Justice (retd) Zahid Kurban Alavi.—File Photo

KARACHI: The caretaker Sindh cabinet at its first meeting on Monday approved the recruitment of up to 8,000 policemen “on merit” as part of a security plan for the general elections scheduled for May 11.

The cabinet meeting, presided over by the caretaker Chief Minister, retired Justice Zahid Kurban Alavi, also decided to repatriate illegal immigrants and to complete the on-going development schemes on time.

After the three-hour-long meeting held in the New Sindh Secretariat building, information secretary Noor Muhammad Leghari briefed the media on the cabinet decisions.

In reply to a question, Mr Leghari said portfolios had not yet been allotted to the ministers. All 16 ministers and two advisers to the chief minister were present at the meeting.

He said the cabinet had given a go-ahead signal for recruitment of 7,000 to 8,000 policemen on an emergency basis “on merit” to meet the shortfall of police force before the elections. Their recruitment programme would be notified soon, he added.

Earlier, inspector general of police Shahid Nadeem Baloch gave a detailed briefing to the cabinet on the law and order situation and the on-going targeted operation in the province with the coordination of the Rangers against hit men, terrorists and other criminal elements. During these operations a number of criminal elements were arrested and a large number of illegal weapons were seized from them.

The IG further told the cabinet about the security plan prepared for holding the coming elections in a peaceful atmosphere. All available resources were being utilised to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the province, he added.

The cabinet expressed its satisfaction over the security plan and gave its approval, Mr Leghari said, adding that the cabinet also discussed the delay in funds release from the federal divisible pool.

Finance Secretary Sohail Rajput briefing the cabinet on the fiscal position of the province said that during the current financial year Rs190 billion was allocated for the annual development programme and according to the schedule Rs135 billion was supposed to be released by the third quarter of the year, but so far only Rs86 billion had been released. The cabinet was also informed that the province had not yet given its due share from the federal divisible pool and taxes, but he said he hoped that in the last quarterly instalment the province would get its due share. Additional chief secretary Arif Ahmad Khan briefed the cabinet regarding the on-going development projects.

The chief minister constituted a three-member ministerial committee which in coordination with the secretaries of finance, planning and development would prepare a report within seven days. He also issued instructions for the immediate removal of hurdles, if any, in timely completion of the on-going development schemes.

The meeting was also informed that about 2.5 million illegal immigrants were settled in the province, mostly Bangladeshis, and a number of meetings had been held with National Database and Registration Authority and National Alien Registration Authority representatives and the Sindh government. The cabinet decided that the decision on their repatriation would be taken in the light of the final list to be received from Nadra and Nara in that regard.