ISLAMABAD, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Pakistani military has no intention of interfering in the country's general elections, Defense Secretary Asif Yasin Malik said.
Speaking after a meeting of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Defense, Malik, a retired lieutenant general, was quoted by Dawn newspaper as saying, "There is no political or election cell in any agency, nor does the military intend to interfere in the election.
The report said it was third time this month the Pakistani military establishment assured it would remain neutral in the elections, which are expected in May. For the first time, the democratically elected government of President Asif Ali Zaradri is set to complete its full five-year team in March.
The military establishment is seen by its critics as being the most powerful group in the country despite the civilian government.
The assurances from the defense establishment seemed designed to calm concerns about the upcoming elections being transparent or that the military would be monitoring the polls.
Malik said the military wouldn't be "monitoring" the election, Dawn reported.
Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was quoted last weekend as saying he had a dream that "free, fair and transparent elections take place on time."
He said the army had stayed out of political matters during the last five years of the civilian government, Dawn reported.