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Sethi against poll delay

April 08, 2013

LAHORE, April 7: Caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi has made ‘sweeping changes’ to the provincial bureaucracy to ensure free and fair polls.

Except four all provincial secretaries, nine commissioners and regional police officers, 36 district coordination officers and district police officers are being changed immediately, Najam Sethi told reporters at his office here on Sunday.

He argued that finance, home, health and education secretaries were retained to meet certain needs of their departments.

He said the reshuffle was delayed because he wished to give a free hand to the chief secretary, who he considered the real chief executive, to select new team.

To a question, he said various types of rigging processes and techniques had been identified and work was on to plug all these loopholes.

He said he would resign at once even on an iota of suspicion that polls were being delayed through any unconstitutional manner. However, he was not decisive on his likely reaction if the Supreme Court and the Election Commission sought the deferral.

He said the electoral exercise should not be postponed without the approval of three major players -- the PML-N, the PPP and the PTI. The rest of the political parties, he said, did not matter in this respect.

To a query about the functioning of banned outfits, he said a decision in this regard would be taken after 15 days after the reshuffled bureaucracy settled in.

The interim chief minister said he could not do anything on the Provincial Finance Commission for equitable distribution of provincial resources among all districts as it was a major policy.

Similarly, he said, the next elected government would decide on annual development plan and other financial details as the caretaker set-up would be working on total revenue generation and expenditures.

About threats to politicians and provision of security to them, he said he could not withdraw security from the Sharifs as the whole family was facing terror threats while he was also ready to provide security cover to Imran Khan and former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani.

By withdrawing 25 percent of security force from the Sharifs and other political families, he said, their security covers had also been rationalized.

Sethi said he was trying to provide relief to civilian victims of terror acts and data on them was being collected.

About Basant, which was banned for the last five years, he said he was trying to consult the opponents and proponents of the spring festival keeping in mind that the celebration should not be held at the cost of people’s lives. The final decision, he said, would be made within a couple of days.

About energy shortage in Punjab, he said he was forwarding a letter of MQM’s Nasreen Jalil to the federal government with the request to address concerns of all concerned.—Amjad Mahmood