Elections 2024: All set to hold free, fair polls on February 8, says info minister

Elections 2024: All set to hold free, fair polls on February 8, says info minister

Islamabad (Web Desk):  Federal Minister of Information, Broadcasting, and Parliamentary Affairs, Murtaza Solangi, said on Saturday that all arrangements had been finalized for conducting peaceful, fair, free, and transparent elections in Pakistan on February 8.

Briefing the foreign observers and media persons in Pakistan to monitor and cover the February 8 elections, he said that in Pakistan, which is now the fifth largest democracy in the world, elections are only four days away.

Flanked by officials of the Foreign Office (FO), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Ministry of Interior, and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he said that now Pakistan is the fifth largest democracy in the world.

The minister said that elections were being held for the National Assembly (NA) of Pakistan and the provincial assemblies of four provinces, including Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

He said that some elements had been spreading rumors in the recent past about the elections, citing the severity of the weather, the law and order situation, or some other issues.

“Full security arrangements have been made at the polling stations, and the government will ensure peaceful and transparent elections on February 8,” he added.

“Police would be in the first tier, Rangers and Frontier Constabulary would perform duty in the second tier, while the third tier of security would be with the Pakistan Army as a quick response force.”

Solangi said that media in Pakistan enjoyed full freedom and everyone had the right to express opinion and criticize the government.

The minister said that the total number of voters in Pakistan was 12,85,85,760, out of which 69263704 were male voters and 5,93,22,056 were female voters.

To a question, he said that law and order and terrorism were not new issues in Pakistan, as it has been battling the scourge of terrorism for the past few decades. He recalled that the 2008 and 2013 elections were conducted under the shadow of security threats.

“Since 2021, with the change of guard in Kabul, terrorist groups of various hues and colors having safe sanctuaries in a neighboring country have become more active,” Solangi said, adding that Pakistan is taking action against terrorists and that peaceful elections will be ensured at all costs.

“Our battle-hardened security forces are fully prepared for the elections,” the minister maintained.
Responding to a question, he said that the economic initiatives taken during the caretaker government were in the background of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to attract investment.

Solangi said that various economic agreements have been signed with friendly countries under the SIFC.

The minister said that the caretaker government took important steps to improve the economy.

He said when the caretakers came to power in August last year, the dollar was not available in the open market for even Rs350 to Rs400, but due to steps taken by the present dispensation, now the rupee is stabilized and the economy is in a far better position.

“92 international observers from different countries will cover the elections. He said that observers belonged to the European Union, Commonwealth, Russian Federation, Japan, South Africa, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands, Hungary, Sweden, Azerbaijan, and Germany,” Solangi said.

In response to a question about the allegations of victimization of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders and party workers, he said that these allegations were baseless and absurd.

Solangi said that some PTI activists were arrested, but they were detained in connection with their involvement in May 9 incidents or other criminal acts.

The minister said that the PTI leadership was free to criticize the government and the court’s verdicts.

Moreover, they have other legal options, including knocking on the doors of courts, including the superior judiciary.

Meanwhile, the electoral body has completed all arrangements for general elections scheduled to be held on February 8.

According to the ECP, over 120 million registered voters will cast vote for the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.

The ECP has established 90,675 polling stations in all four provinces. Of these, 41403 are combined polling stations while 25,320 are for male and 23,952 for women voters.

A total of 5,121 candidates are in the race for the National Assembly seats. These include 4,807 male, 312 female and two transgenders.

The elections will be held on 266 general seats of National Assembly and 593 seats of four provincial assemblies.

Separately, the ECP has postponed the elections in four constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies, citing the unfortunate deaths of the candidates.

Delayed elections impact one national constituency and the remaining provincial ones in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab, specifically NA-8 Bajaur, PK-22 Bajaur, PK-91 Kohat, and PP-266.