ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Tuesday said Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are not interested in electoral reforms, as Bilawal Bhutto and Maryam Nawaz could become the prime minister only because of poll rigging.
Briefing the media about the federal cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, and replying to reporters questions, the minister said the two parties had neither any interest in electoral reforms nor any alternative proposals in that regard.
Fawad claimed that there were only two ways through which Maryam or Bilawal could become the prime minister of Pakistan: one that Pakistanis had such a bad luck, and the second that they resort to massive rigging. He noted that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari had never talked about polls reforms, because the old system suited them and particularly the PML-N won no election without rigging.
“Therefore, they have no interest in changing the system. What they do is to issue a one-liner statement from their homes that reforms are not acceptable to them. “While Imran Khan’s government is the only government that wants reforms in the system, PMLN opposes it knowing it well that in case of transparency, there will be no future of Sharifs,” he added.
The minister said, “We tried our best to talk to them. The prime minister spoke on the issue. They were given demonstration on the electronic voting machine. But they did not attend any meeting.
“They are not interested in seeing the practical demonstration of the machine,” added the minister. He claimed the political leadership had no idea about the use of technology. He regretted that the Benazir Bhutto party was being run by political jokers.
Among other decisions, he said the cabinet approved the National Data Repository (NDR), to be established by NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority] in view of the data security issues. He added that would be a milestone for Pakistan in terms of having a consolidated data.
The PM, he said, expressed strong reservations during the cabinet meeting and said that it was not appropriate to grab land from the poor by force and then give it to the big people on cheaper rates. The minister noted that the poor had greatly been exploited, especially in the villages of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT). And a large number of journalists have found these plots, besides others, including judges and bureaucrats.
The minister said the PM constituted a committee, headed by Asad Umar, comprising Dr Shireen Mazari, Shehzad Akbar and Farogh Naseem, and this committee would come up with a comprehensive policy and a system in which the lands of the poor could not be seized and the rich could not form their own housing societies there.
He said that for New Zealand cricket team’s visit to Pakistan, a security plan had been approved and noted that the last visit of the New Zealand to Pakistan was not pleasant in terms of security. He said extraordinary security would be provided to the cricket team.
The minister said Dr Faisal had spoken to the UK’s chief medical scientist about the red list and we have largely allayed his concerns about the data and we are hopeful of a review by them on this count.
He said the price of injection, used for treatment of coronavirus, was reduced from Rs5,680 to Rs3,960.
The minister said the cabinet was told that the state owned enterprises (SOEs) incurred losses of Rs286 billion during the fiscal year 2017-18. However, all the SOEs, except for the National Highway Authority (NHA), had been transformed into profitable organisations. He said these organisations were facing colossal losses of Rs140 billion, but now they were registering Rs31 billion profit, he said and added, “This is not our destination as there is still room for reformation of the SOEs”. Massive reforms in the NHA were underway, he added. He said the Essential Services Act had been enforced in Radio Pakistan.
Fawad Ch said that in order to revive the cinema industry, the government had proposed that non-Indian Punjabi films should be shown in cinemas in Pakistan. However, this was proposed by the cabinet that international films should be allowed to be imported into Pakistan, barring Indians, so we will now resubmit the summary after editing.
He explained, “In the 1970s, we had 780 cinemas, but now there are only 78 cinemas, and if we don’t take immediate steps to revive cinema and film, our film industry, which is already almost stagnant, will close.
“We are bringing a film package for it and have taken practical steps to revive the cinema and it will be announced by next week”. He said that the voluntary survey scheme and golden shake-hand have been approved for employees of Pakistan Medical Commission. He said the decisions taken at the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee on August 31, 2021 were ratified, in which a technical additional grant of over Rs21 crore had been given for 45 cantonment elections.
The minister said that our overseas assets were confiscated in the Riko Dik case and Roosevelt Hotel was also included in those assets. Later, we won it and now that hotel has been returned to Pakistan, but its debt needed to be paid.
He said a joint security commission has been set up between Pakistan and Uzbekistan and as a result of the visit of the PM to Uzbekistan, there is a deep political and strategic relationship between the two countries.
The minister said that Afghanistan was being talked about all over the world but you have never heard from the PMLN or the PPP about their policy in that regard. What do they think and how do they see the role of Pakistan? “Sometimes, the PPP wants to move the PTM’s agenda forward. Besides, we have never heard from them what they think about it, which is unfortunate,” he said.
In response to a question, he said PMLN’s Javed Latif was a political clown, he wanted to get attention; the status of the party is that they want to be sitting outside the doors of GHQ. They would like the feeder that remained in the mouth of their leadership to be put in their mouth somehow and power be given to them.
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