- Information minister says formation of new constituencies to start early next year, next general election will take place according to new constituencies
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that the cabinet has approved Rs5 billion for holding the population census, adding that work on the project will be completed in December this year.
"The results of the pilot phase of the project will come to the government by April or May," Fawad said while addressing a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting.
He went on to say that once the census is completed, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will start work on the formation of new constituencies. "The next election will take place according to the new constituencies," he added.
Turning his focus on Transparency International's latest report, in which Pakistan's position has worsened in the corruption-related index, he said it was also discussed in the cabinet meeting.
"The country-specific report has not been published yet," the minister said.
He further said that the criteria used in the report cover many aspects related to corruption, including accountability, state capture, financial corruption, and others.
"Pakistan’s rating has not dropped due to financial corruption but rule of law and state capture," he reasoned.
Pakistan's position dropped from 124th to 140th place among 180 countries, revealed Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI 2021) report on Tuesday.
The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The CPI global average remains unchanged at 43 for the tenth year in a row, and two-thirds of countries score below 50.
Meanwhile, Fawad said that the cabinet had approved some amendments to the criminal law and under the amended law, criminal cases will have to be completed within 9 months.
"If a case takes more than nine months, the judge will have to offer explanations to the Chief Justice that why the case couldn’t be finished in the allowed timeframe," he explained.
"The prosecutor will have to do the same," he said, adding that "if the judge or prosecutor are found responsible, action will be taken against them."
Sharing more details, he said that police SHO would be an officer with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and modern devices would be used for evidence collection and forensics.
Fawad said independent prosecution service was being established and their powers and jurisdiction will be enhanced.
The role of the forensic lab applicability was being increased to bring the prosecution at par with modern prosecutorial techniques, he said.
He further said that the government has decided to introduce plea-bargain in criminal cases.
Fawad also talked about some decisions made by the cabinet in light of the current wave of the coronavirus. The minister told reporters that Pakistan's health system was not under stress amid the 5th wave of the Covid-19.
He said that this reflected the government's successful policy that is focused on imposing smart lockdowns to deal with the virus.
The minister said that the cabinet had decided that businesses will not be closed despite the spread of the Omicron variant.
"We will defeat the current wave of coronavirus," he said, adding that "SOPs should be followed."
He advised people to get vaccinated as it was the most effective way to beat the virus.
The fifth Covid-19 wave continued to take its toll on Pakistan as the country reported 6,357 cases at a positivity ratio of 12.81% during the last 24 hours.