- Information minister says govt will not engage in talks over electoral reforms with leaders who are 'outside the system'
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said on Tuesday that the government is ready to work with members of the opposition, but only those that are part of parliament, adding that those who are outside the system cannot be engaged in talks.
"The government is in contact with the opposition on the issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Internet voting," he said, while addressing a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
"We are consulting the opposition parties. A free and fair electoral process is in the interest of all democratic forces.”
Criticising the leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for attempting to create controversy over the recent election in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said that the outgoing government belonged to the PML-N, and it is the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which is being blamed for rigging.
“Azad Kashmir’s Prime Minister was organising the election. The bureaucracy was with the outgoing government. Despite this, the PML-N lost the election,” he said.
“PML-N’s claims of rigging are nothing more than an attempt to politicise the election,” he emphasised.
He noted that all political parties should cooperate on issues of national interest. “We have presented around 49 amendments to opposition parties in different areas of governance,” he said.
“If the opposition doesn’t agree with these proposals, they can bring their own.”
Clarifying the government’s position on talks with opposition leaders regarding electoral reforms and issues of governance, Fawad said that the government cannot engage with people like Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain, and others, who are not elected members of the parliament.
“There are some people who are not part of the parliament and do not want Pakistan’s democratic process to progress,” he lamented.
Commenting on the Sindh government’s decision to impose a lockdown, he said that the provincial government needs to improve its governance.
“The Sindh government is behind the rest of Pakistan in every sector,” he said.
He added that the pace of vaccination in Karachi and Hyderabad remain dismal. “If the situation continues, the federal government will not remain a spectator.”
The cabinet, he said, was also informed that another set of prisoners jailed in Saudi Arabia have returned to Pakistan.
Efforts are being made for the release of Pakistanis imprisoned in different countries, who were not involved in serious crimes, the minister said.
“The government is focused on the well-being of overseas Pakistanis,” he added.
He said the cabinet was also briefed on the encroachments in different sectors of Islamabad.
All the involved institutions have been directed to remove boundary walls built on the green belt in different sectors, he said.
He said it was a clear message for all that no encroachments would be tolerated anywhere.
Talking about the ongoing load shedding in the country, he said that Pakistan has excess availability of electricity, but “does not have a good distribution system to transfer it.”
He said that the request to increase the state ministers’ salaries has been rejected, while the salaries of the civil servants have been increased.