'Crackdown on Oppn a preventive action'

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Islamabad, Sep 25: Defending the massive crackdown on the Opposition parties in Pakistan, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has said the action was part of ''preventive action'' to ensure peace ahead of the presidential polls in the country.

''Only a few people have been arrested and most of them were put under house arrest, to avert creation of any law and order situation,'' he told a news conference here yesterday.

Mr Aziz said the arrests were prompted by the threats made to disrupt the ''legal proceedings of the Election Commission'' and were according to the law of the country.

Vowing free, fair and transparent elections, the Prime Minister said fresh electoral rolls were being prepared so that all eligible voters can exercise their franchise.

Computerised electoral rolls and the use of transparent ballet boxes for the upcoming general election and a number of other functional and administrative measures have been initiated by the Election Commission, he informed.

Mr Aziz exuded confidence that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League will form the next government to ensure continuity and consistency in the policies.

''The ballot box and the will of the people will decide the future government,'' he said.

The Prime Minister said the government desired national political reconciliation and was in contact with all the political parties for a conducive atmosphere wherein the country can progress.

''We have political contacts with all the parties on all important issues facing the country,'' Mr Aziz said when asked about the reports about the deal with the Pakistan People's Party.

He, however, denied the government had entered into any deal with any party and stressed that it was holding the talks for improvement of the political situation in the country.

''There is nothing wrong in discussing matters with other parties,'' he explained.

He said as part of reconciliation the government would like to work out a code of conduct with all the political parties.

Minister for Information Muhammad Ali Durrani and Secretary Information Syed Anwar Mahmood were present on the occasion.


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