- Information minister says Pakistan's hardened stance behind NZ, England cricket tour cancellations
- Will hold detailed briefing with interior minister in a few days
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that Pakistan is paying the price for its stance of 'absolutely not' when it comes to the tour cancellations of New Zealand and England cricket teams.
Fawad was referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan's now infamous response to a journalist on whether Islamabad would allow Washington to have its bases in Pakistan in the wake of US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"Absolutely not,” is what Khan said to allowing any bases and use of its territory to the US for any sort of action inside Afghanistan.
The response became the echoes of hallways in days to come, and signalled Pakistan's foreign policy stance.
Fawad said this stance has led to a response from New Zealand and England cricket teams with the former abandoning its tour on the day of the first match in Rawalpindi, while the latter announced that it will not be touring at all for the series scheduled next month.
New Zealand cited a 'security alert' for its withdrawal, a decision Pakistan says was taken unilaterally.
"If nations want to hold their head high then there is a price for that and nations pay that," said Fawad during a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting on Tuesday. "I think Pakistan is ready to deal with any challenge.
"If you say 'absolutely not' then it has a price and you have to pay it," the information minister added.
The information minister said "very important" information had been received and he would hold a detailed briefing with the interior minister about "what is happening".
"You will see how all these issues are linked together."
Fawad said the briefing would be held in the next few days.
Earlier on Tuesday, Fawad also said that Pakistan Television (PTV), the state-run network, has suffered a huge financial loss to the tune of millions, and the ministry will consult with lawyers regarding initiating legal action.
The minister also said that a certain international lobby is engaged against Pakistan. "But those who want to subdue us will never succeed. They should get rid of this misconception soon," he said.
Meanwhile, the information minister said the next general election will take place according to the new census, which is expected to start in the coming months.
"The 7th census will be completed in 540 days, and it will be carried out with the use of technology for the first time," he said.
He said that the PM has constituted a special committee that will present details to the cabinet regarding the details of the whole process.
Fawad also said that the next election will take place according to new constituencies which will be formed after the completion of the census.
Talking about electoral reforms, he said that we have to move forward with the process.
"Electoral reforms have to take place before the election and we are asking the opposition again to sit with us and work on these reforms."
Justifying the government's push to include overseas Pakistanis in the electoral process, he said that it is "impossible" that they are left out of the electoral reforms.
"Overseas Pakistanis are the backbone of our economy and it’s not possible that we don't give them the right to vote," he said.
Talking about progress against Polio eradication from Pakistan, he said only one case was recorded in seven months. "To gain the status of a polio-free country, we have to remain polio-free for at least three years," he said.
Uzbekistan business visa and cinema industry revival
The information minister also said that Pakistan has added Uzbekistan to its business visa list, which means that Pakistani embassies can offer visas within 24 hours to citizens of Uzbekistan. "We have a good working relationship with Uzbekistan and we aim to deepen it further."
The cabinet, he said, has decided to allow Canadian Punjabi, Turkish and Iranian movies to be screened at cinemas as part of the effort to support the struggling businesses. "Cinema businesses are struggling and we want to support them. These businesses need to flourish," he said.