ISLAMABAD - After facing severe criticism from main stream political parties, caretaker Interior Minister Malik Habib Khan on Tuesday backtracked from his statement and said he was not affiliated with any political party.

The minister had to face brash criticism from major political parties including the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) for his statement that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif was the only true national leader who could steer the country out of crisis and he would vote for him. The political parties have also demanded resignation of the interior minister for making this statement.

Briefing the media after chairing a meeting about the security arrangements for elections in Islamabad, the minister said he had left his past affiliations behind and was an impartial caretaker minister. Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Additional Secretary Afzal Khan and the interior secretary were also present on the occasion.

"If there is any evidence against me for being partial, please make it public. I am an impartial person and respect the entire political leadership,” the minister said. "Being an interior minister, it is my key responsibility to provide stringent security to all political leadership on merit. PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chairman Imran Khan will also be provided security to avert any untoward incident.”

He said that his prime responsibility was to maintain law and order situation to ensure free and peaceful elections. “The ECP was supervising security arrangements for transparent elections.” Malik Habib said that two meetings had already been held with provincial governments and the ICT Administration on security issues for the general elections.

He informed the media that the current meeting was called to review and examine the security arrangements in the capital as 49 polling stations in the area had been declared sensitive. He said the ECP would decide about the deployment of army on the sensitive polling stations. The minister said that the meeting, attended by Rangers, police and intelligence agencies' officials, proposed to boost up the security of VIPs, besides tightening the security of 49 polling stations.