NATIONAL

'India planning to disrupt polls'

ISLAMABAD OCT. 5. The Pakistan Interior Minister, Moinuddin Haider, today alleged that India was planning to `disrupt' the October 10 general elections in the country and said that security was being stepped up to ensure a peaceful poll.

In an informal talk with correspondents here, he claimed that the Pakistan Government learned about the `plans' of India through interrogation of a number of militants arrested recently from Karachi and other parts of the country. He said foolproof arrangements had been made to maintain law and order. The Minister claimed that as a result of the steps taken by the Government, the law and order situation had improved considerably. However, he urged the people to be vigilant.

The Minister said arrangements had been made to deploy the army if and when necessary to maintain order during the elections. In response to a question, he said politicians should exercise tolerance and not create hurdles in the way of development of the country.

In another development, Pakistan Supreme Court has admitted the petitions by Shahbaz Sharif and Kulsoom, the brother and the wife of the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Shairf, challenging the rejection of their nomination papers. They wanted to contest for the National and provincial Assemblies from Lahore. The nomination papers were first accepted by the Returning Officers but were subsequently rejected by a special tribunal following objections over their signatures.

In their petitions before the apex court, they have prayed that they should be allowed to contest the polls and offered to bear all the expenses for the printing of ballot papers at this late stage.

Poll monitoring team arrives

A 38-member SAARC poll monitoring team has joined other international observer groups to observe the October 10 general elections in Pakistan.

Among the international bodies that have sent election observers include the European Union and the Commonwealth. A group of observers from the Organisation of Islamic Countries is also likely to be here soon. The Colombo-based International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) has selected the SAARC group. The details of the team and whether any Indian delegate is part of it is not known. The ICES coordinated similar missions in Pakistan in 1988, 1990, 1993 and 1997.

The SAARC team will assemble in Karachi and will be divided and sent to the four provinces. A sub-group, consisting of six senior members, will arrive here on October 8 from Karachi. According to Pakistan Security and Development Association, the group is likely to meet the Chief Election Commissioner, Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary, Interior secretary and representatives of political parties.

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