ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has approved deployment of army in Sindh for implementation of coronavirus SOPs and cleared two ordinances as part of electoral reforms.
Briefing media persons after the cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Faward Chaudhary stated that the cabinet was given a briefing on electoral reforms.
The minister further stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has ordered a vote recount in Karachi by-election because it reached the conclusion “that there was worst kind of rigging in Karachi election.”
Therefore, the PTI demand is that a re-poll, not a vote recount, should have been ordered as there is no logic of vote recount because only 21 percent votes were polled and the winning candidate has been able to get only five percent votes.
Chaudhary added that Indian Elections Commission’s irresponsible attitude was responsible for a very high surge in Covid cases in India because it allowed election campaigns. According to him, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has not been able to enforce corona SOPs during the recent election.
He said there are four parts of electoral reforms with the first one is about electronic voting machine (EVM) “and its benefit would be in the form of result of the entire constituency within 20 minutes.”
The second part of reforms is electronic voting to give right of vote to millions of overseas Pakistanis.
He said there are nine million overseas Pakistanis, accusing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of showing reluctance to give voting right to overseas Pakistanis, who have been making a major contribution to the economy by sending remittances.
The cabinet approved two Ordinances to facilitate reforms. Though one ordinance the ECP is being empowered to use EVM in elections the other ordinance empowers the ECP to take measures aimed at giving right of vote to overseas Pakistanis.
He said: “The government has enabled the ECP, I hope that Bilawal Bhutto and Shehbaz Sharif will be pleased as both have been demanding that ECP should have led all these things.”
The government has enabled the ECP to lead the reforms, he added.
The minister said that if reforms were to be undertaken in this way then National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should have also been allowed to undertake reforms.
He said that other institutions should have also been allowed to undertake their own reforms.
The minister said that as part of civil procedure court reforms regarding obtaining succession certificate, overseas Pakistanis are also being extended this facility by establishing initially in 24 embassies.
He said that the prime minister has directed the provincial governments to address the technical issues for undertaking civil procedure court reforms.
The minister said that the cabinet has approved issuance of a commemorative coin to pay tribute to the NED University, Karachi, on 100 years of its establishment as it was established in 1921.
The minister said that the cabinet approved National Policy for Statement on follow the money to effectively follow the money as this process was first accelerated under the FATF.
He said that the Cabinet approved 90-day remission to jail prisoners on the occasion of Eidul Fitr.
The cabinet also constituted a committee where overpasses employees’ promoters would file their appeal against the cancellation of their licenses, removed 10 percent withholding tax on private sector bids in Pakistan Railways for private public partnership and Ahsan Ali Chughtai has been appointed as private member on the board of National Bank of Pakistan. The cabinet gave its approval to an agreement on establishing Supreme Coordination Council between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and as the prime minister would be visiting Saudi Arabia. ‘Supreme Coordination Council’ is being activated for promotion of relation between the two countries, he added.
Replying to a question, the minister said the government wanted to vaccinate 25 million people by July 2021.
He said that there was also resolution on human rights violation against India, and the prime minister made it clear that no compromise is possible in the reverence and respect of holy Prophet (PBUH) and the government would not be influenced by the EU resolution on country’s internal matters.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan will be visiting KSA on 25th Ramzan and this visit is very important.”
APP adds: The minister said the government's electoral reforms consisted of four parts, including use of EVMs, e-voting for the overseas Pakistanis, biometric and legislation.
He said EVMs had been developed and the government had unveiled its legislation agenda for the purpose, while work was underway on biometric and e-voting mechanism.
The cabinet was given a briefing by Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz and Information Technology Minister Syed Aminul Haq with reference to electronic voting machines and e-voting.
He said the cabinet was informed that the lowest implementation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) related to the coronavirus was recorded in Sindh, especially in Karachi. The situation in the province, particularly in Karachi, was a matter of concern, and if the SOPs were not followed it could further worsen and affect the supply chain upcountry.
Islamabad, he said, was at the forefront in implementation of the SOPs, while there was stability and decrease in COVID-19 cases in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to better compliance of the precautionary measures.
He said that the SOPs implementation had significantly improved with the involvement of military personnel.
The cabinet, he said, approved the deployment of the army personnel in Sindh, accepting the provincial government’s request. The situation would have been better in that province had its government already opted for the army personnel’s deployment.
The minister said during the last 24 hours, 161 persons had passed away due to the coronavirus, majority of them in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, whereas 3,377 were diagnosed with the virus, rising the number of total active cases to 86,151.
He said the lockdown during Eid holidays was aimed at curbing the rise in cases and hoped that the Sindh government would pay special attention to the implementation of SOPs and with the deployment of army personnel, things would hopefully improve there.
Fawad said the cabinet decided 40 per cent payment of outstanding dues to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), whose electricity had already been consumed. It would be a major step in stabilizing the power sector, he added.
The cabinet, he said, also endorsed decisions taken by its Economic Coordination Committee on April 28.
He said how the Parliament could be made irrelevant and the departments concerned like the national Accountability Bureau (NAB), ECP and others were allowed to do legislation on their own.
Prime Minister Imran Khan was leading the initiative of electoral reforms through the Parliament, he added.
The minister said: “like the demise of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and end of the politics of their leaders Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the politics of PPP and PML-N was also going to end,”
Fawad said initially 24 desks were being set up at the foreign embassies for issuance of inheritance certificates, and the overseas Pakistanis would not be required to come to Pakistan for the purpose.
The launch of ‘one billion tree’ drive in Saudi Arabia would give an opportunity to the Pakistani labour, the minister said.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021