Fawad invites opposition yet again to discuss election reforms

LAHORE (Dunya News) - Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Saturday the opposition had an important role in a democratic dispensation and PPP, PML-N should support the government in passage of election and judicial reforms initiatives.

Talking to the media he said the electronic voting was the remedy to the alleged election rigging claims by political parties, adding that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) could be tried in the coming Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections.

The Minister said the government wanted to improve working relations with the opposition, adding that the government was making sincere efforts to bring round the opposition so that constructive discussion could start on election reforms in the country. He urged Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif to name a focal person so that dialogue of reforms could be undertaken.

Fawad Chaudhry dispelled the impression that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had raisedany 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 the federal and provincial budgets would be a smooth sailing for the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) government, adding that all the allied political parties had assured the government of their support and all are on one page.

The Information Minister said the country’s economy was stable and fast improving despite the ill economic effects of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, adding that economies of the neighboring countries had faltered significantly during the pandemic. He said the main goals of the budget 2021-22 were to enhance development budget, control dearness in the country and provide relief to the salaried class besides increasing revenues.

On FATF, he said the government had achieved great success after country’s rating on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) improved, adding that efforts of federal minister Hammad Azhar and the law ministry were laudable in this regard.

Comparing the opposition with fragmented straws of a stack, Fawad Chaudhry said that opposition parties were faced with internal disintegration as there were differences between Shehbaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz within PML-N, besides the fissures in PPP as Bilawal Bhutto and Faryal Talpur were embroiled in power struggle.

Vis a vis PDM Chairman Maulana Fazalur Rehman’s remarks, he said the power of votes of 20 million people brought PTI into power in the general election 2018, adding that Fazalur Rehman could not win that power even in the next 200 years. He said Maulana Fazalur Rehman had badly failed in keeping political movement alive, adding that he should quit politics and pursue his own trade of solemnizing marriages as a religious leader instead.

When asked about Jahangir Tareen cases, he said the PTI parliamentarians have personal; relations with Jahangir Tareen and have been appearing alongside him during court hearings, adding that there was nothing abnormal about it.

“All 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 anybody”, Fawad Chaudhry responded.

About the audit reports on Covid-19, the minister said the finance ministry had submitted its detailed report to the Accountant General of Pakistan Revenue (AGPR), adding that as far as the government was concerned, it had already submitted its audit report.

Fawad Chaudhry, when asked about the corporations, said that these organizations faced crisis due to politically motivated recruitments during the previous regimes, adding that political recruitment may give one political clout but it was a death knell for the organization.

About Indian propaganda on freedom of press, the Information Minister said that press was free in Pakistan, adding that there were 112 local and 43 foreign channels currently being run in the country. He said Indian network was responsible for creating such uncertainty and 825 fake websites being run by India were recently discovered, adding that such freedom of press was not possible in the Third World countries.

The Minister said 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 what was freedom of expression for the West, its blasphemy for us.

On Shehbaz 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 for any permission and the government would contest the case.

Fawad Chaudhry said the EVMs could be used in some of the constituencies in the AJK elections, adding that he would soon give a demonstration of EVM at the Lahore Press Club and National Press Club besides the Bar Councils in Rawalpindi-Islamabad, Multan and Lahore where elections were held annually so that elections could be held on EVMs.