Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said the government is committed to introduce the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the next general elections to ensure free, fair and transparent polls but the opposition showed no interest in carrying electoral reforms due to their vested interests.
“If free and fair elections are held in Pakistan, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will never win and the politics of Sharif family will come to an end. Therefore, they have no interest in the electoral reforms,” he said while addressing a press conference after meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday.
The info minister said that not a single government in the past including the PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had ever made efforts to improve the electoral system in the country.
He said it is unfortunate that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had to deal with the most “non-serious, incapable and inefficient” opposition of the history of the country. “Their only interest is to save the party’s leadership from the ongoing accountability process.”
Fawad said opposition parties had never given any viewpoint on the ongoing Afghanistan situation or the issue of refugees looming large over the country, regretting that the party of late PPP leader Benazir Bhutto is being run by “political clowns”.
He said the government made every effort to persuade the opposition on electoral reforms, but unfortunately, the opposition had developed a habit of rejecting the government drafts for reforms without even reading its single word.
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They even did not bother to give their own proposals for electoral reforms, he added.
The federal minister said both the PML-N and the PPP are resisting the electoral reforms deliberately as they knew that both Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could only become the prime minister through manipulated and rigged general elections.
He said PM Imran Khan had a clear vision on reforming the over-all system of the country wherein the present government is striving to carry out reforms in all the sectors including media, economy and others.
Despite the opposition’s non-serious attitude, the government is determined to complete its agenda of reforms with the support of the masses, he added.
A detailed briefing was given to the cabinet on electoral reforms and electronic voting machines by Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan and Minister for Information Technology Syed Aminul Haq, Fawad said
UK red list
He said the federal cabinet had deferred the agenda regarding signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for readmission between Pakistan and the United Kingdom (UK).
Under this arrangement, he said the exemption is being sought for entry of a chartered plane into Pakistan from the UK. The matter is deferred for now due to certain reasons, he added.
About presence of Pakistan on the UK’s red list for travel, the information minister said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan had held a detailed discussion with the UK’s chief medical scientists and addressed their concerns about Pakistan’s coronavirus related data.
He expressed hope that the authorities in the UK would review its policy in that regard.
He also said the federal cabinet had fixed prices of Remdesivir, a life saving injection for coronavirus patients, at Rs3,967 by bringing it down from Rs5,680.
The minister said the federal cabinet accorded approval to a landmark initiative of Nadra — Data Depository. It was aimed at centralising the scattered data of the population and crucial to protect the national database, he added.
He said Pakistan is the first country that had issued Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) to over 200 million people and introduced machine-readable passports.
Pakistan is also the only country that verified 160 million mobile SIMs through biometric verification, he added.
Fawad further said that Pakistan had won the case on Roosevelt Hotel in the United States and the cabinet gave approval for allocation of funds to meet its liabilities.