Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Husain Tuesday said the government was committed to introduce 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 PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz) 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 news conference after meeting of the federal cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The minister said that not a single government in the past including PML-N and Pakistan People’s Party’s had ever made efforts to improve the electoral system in the country and now when they were in opposition, they were still resisting the move.
He said it was unfortunate that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had to deal with the most non-serious, incapable and inefficient opposition of the history of the country. Their only interest was to save the party’s leadership from the ongoing accountability process, he added.
Fawad said they 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 Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto was 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.
They even did not bother to give their own proposals for electoral reforms, he added.
minister said both the PML-N and PPP were 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 was striving to carry out reforms in all the sectors including media, economy and others.
Despite the opposition’s non-serious attitude, the government was determined to complete its agenda of reforms with the support of the masses, he added.
Apprising the media persons about the federal cabinet’s proceeding, he said that a detailed briefing was given to the forum on electoral reforms and electronic voting machines by Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan and Minister for Information Technology Syed Amin ul Haq.
He said the federal cabinet approved appointment of Sardar Ali Khan as Inspector General of Police Punjab, while Kamran Afzal had been appointed as Chief Secretary of the province.
Maryam Khawar, he said had been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Pakistan Expo centre Private Limited.
Referring to the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority audit report for 2018-19 submitted to the Public Accounts Committee lately, the minister said it was very unfortunate that as to how poor people were exploited in Islamabad especially after acquiring their lands in suburban areas to oblige favorite ones including bureaucrats, journalists and judges.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed serious reservations over the process of allotting plots to government officers including journalists and judges after acquiring lands from poor people in the federal capital.
Fawad quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying that it was unfair to acquire land from the poor forcefully to hand over to influential people at cheaper rates.
He said PM Imran Khan had constituted a committee to formulate a comprehensive policy in accordance with principles laid down by the Islamabad High Court’s Chief Justice over the matter.
The minister said the committee, which would be headed by Minister for Planning Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar, was aimed to work out a system which would bar acquisition of land from poor people to set up housing societies by influential ones.
Minister of Human Rights Dr. Shireen M Mazari, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar and Dr. Muhammad Farogh Naseem were also included in the committee, he added.
He said the federal cabinet was told that the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) incurred losses of Rs 286 billion during the fiscal year 2017-18. However, all the SOEs, except the National Highway Authority (NHA), had been transformed into profitable organizations, he added.
All those organizations, except the NHA which was facing colossal losses amounting to Rs 140 billion, were registering profit worth Rs 31 billion, he said, adding “This is not our destination as there is still room for reformation of the SOEs.”
The minister expressed confidence that the government would soon succeed in transforming the SOEs into profitable ventures. Massive reforms in the NHA were underway, he added.
Fawad confirmed the upcoming tour of New Zealand’s cricket team and said the federal cabinet had approved a security plan in that regard.
He said security provided to the New Zealand cricket team during its previous tour to the country was not upto the mark. Keeping that in mind, extraordinary security would be provided to the New Zealand cricket team, he added.
The minister said the Essential Services Act had been enforced in Radio Pakistan.
He said the federal cabinet had deferred the agenda regarding signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for readmission between Pakistan and the United Kingdom (UK).
Under this arrangement, he said exemption was being sought for entry of a chartered plane into Pakistan from the UK. The matter was deferred for now due to certain reasons, he added.
About presence of Pakistan on the UK’s red list for travel, the minister said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan had held a detailed discussion with the UK’s Chief Medical Scientists and removed their concerns about Pakistan’s Coronavirus related data.