LAHORE: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday yet again extended an invitation to the Opposition to work with the government on electoral and judicial reforms.
He asked the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to appoint a focal person for the purpose.
Talking to the media in the city at the launch of a clothing brand, he reiterated the government’s stance that electronic voting machines (EVMs) would remedy all claims of rigging in elections.
He said that these could be tried in the upcoming Azad Jammu and Kashmir elections.
The minister said he would also soon give a demonstration of EVMs at the Lahore Press Club and National Press Club besides the Bar Councils in Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Multan and Lahore where elections were held annually.
‘Govt wants better relations with Opposition’
The information minister expressed the government’s desire to improve relations with the Opposition.
He said the Opposition had an important role in a democratic dispensation and PPP, PML-N should support the government in the passage of election and judicial reforms.
Remarking on the turn of events which had soured relations between the two parties, he said that PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had “handed over her party to the PPP”, whose chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, had in turn, “handed over his party to the N-League”.
“Now it seems both parties are divorced,” he remarked, adding that the chief of the Opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, should solemnise marriages. “He is not cut out for politics.”
He said the power of the votes of 20 million people brought PTI into power in the 2018 general election, adding that Fazlur Rehman could not win that power “even in the next 200 years”.
‘ECP has not objected to use of technology’
Fawad dispelled the impression that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had raised any objections to the use of technology, and said that it was the government which gives rules and regulations while the ECP was supposed to adopt technology and give feedback on its pros and cons.
He said a PTI delegation would meet the ECP officials on Wednesday and would share policy guidelines of the government on elections reforms.
About the budget for the new fiscal year, Fawad said he foresees “smooth sailing” for the PTI in the federal and provincial budgets , adding that all the allied political parties had assured the government of their support and all are on one page.
The information minister said Pakistan’s economy was stable and fast improving despite the ill effects of the coronavirus, which had had a much more devastating effect on neighbouring countries.
He said the main goals of the budget 2021-22 were to enhance development budget, control inflation in the country and provide relief to the salaried class besides increasing revenues.
Fawad said the government had achieved great success after the countryâ€™s rating on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) improved, adding that the efforts of federal minister Hammad Azhar and the law ministry were laudable in this regard.
When asked about the probe into Jahangir Tareen and the support he has gathered, he said the PTI parliamentarians have personal relations with Tareen and have been appearing alongside him during court hearings for the same reason. There was nothing unusual about it, he said.
â€œAll PTI parliamentarians and Jahangir Khan Tareen believe in the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan and they know the premier will not allow any injustice to anybodyâ€, Fawad responded.
About Indian propaganda on freedom of the press, the information minister said that the press was free in Pakistan, adding that there were 112 local and 43 foreign channels currently operating in the country.
He said Indian networks were responsible for creating such uncertainty and 825 fake websites being run by India were recently discovered.
The minister claimed even the First World could not boast of such freedom of press, saying could anybody write on the Holocaust in Germany or about Israel in the United Sates.
He said the countries had their red-lines and all should live with them, adding that what is labelled as freedom of expression for the West, is blasphemy for us.
Shahbaz should contest his case
On Shahbaz Sharif being allowed to go abroad, he said the government had placed him on the Exit Control List (ECL), and he should contest his case in the court and the government would challenge it.