Cabinet decides to consult opposition over election reforms

The federal cabinet also expresses concern over corona SOPs violations


Rizwan Ghilzai May 12, 2020
Expresses concern over corona SOPs violations. PHOTO: RADIO PAKISTAN/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday expressed concern over flouting of safety measures in many parts of the country after the easing of lockdowns imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus as Premier Imran Khan laid stress on launching an effective campaign to create awareness about the pandemic.

“There may be a sudden surge in coronavirus cases as a result of easing of restrictions. To deal with this situation, it is imperative to create awareness about hazards of Covid-19 and run an effective campaign to motivate people to adopt measures like social distancing,” Imran said addressing his cabinet.

According to sources privy to the discussion in the cabinet meeting, the prime minister said there is a need to strike a balance between preventive measures and economic activities.

“We decided to ease the lockdown in view of the difficulties faced by the common man. Even the developed countries have removed curbs on the construction and some other sectors while taking into account the ground realities.

“Lockdown is temporary step which could stop spread of the virus to some degrees. To prevent this disease it is imperative to adopt safety measures,” he added.

The federal government eased coronavirus-induced lockdown on May 9 despite a continuous rise in coronavirus infections in view of the economic crisis faced by the general public. The lockdown was decided to be lifted in different phases.

“We are doing it because people are facing extreme difficulties. Small business owners, daily-wage earners and labourers are suffering severe hardships. We fear that small- and medium-sized industries might completely vanish if we don’t lift the lockdown,” the PM had said in in a televised briefing.

Addressing the media after the cabinet meeting, Federal Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz also appealed to the masses to observe precautionary measures, adding that easing the lockdown was a tough decision as the government had now little options.

Faraz said Prime Minster Imran could not attend the National Assembly session on Monday due to some pressing engagements but would now attend the upcoming session.

The opposition parties on Monday lashed out at Imran Khan for skipping the National Assembly session convened to discuss the situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic in the country and the federal government’s response to it, calling the premier “inept” and the government’s strategy “confusing”.

Responding to the opposition’s allegations, the information minister said: “Those who pressed for summoning the NA session and who claimed to be the champions of democracy also did not show up in the session. This behavior is a hypocritical,” he added.

During the NA session held after a gap of nearly two months due to the pandemic, there were moments when the discussion over the government’s possible attempt to dilute the 18th Constitutional Amendment overshadowed the Covid-19 situation.

Shibli Faraz also spoke about the said amendment and said there should not be much hue and cry over the 18 Amendment “as a party that has enough numbers in the parliament can make a constitutional amendment. However, I believe that a debate should take place on this matter.”

He said the federal cabinet also green-lighted the Economic Coordination Committee's decision of May 6. He said the cabinet approved the names for the National Commission on the Status of Women.

These include Shaista Bukhari from Punjab, Habiba Hasan from Sindh, Advocate Rubina Naaz from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fatima Iqbal from Balochoistan, Sahabzadi Madiha Sultana from AJK, Asia Azeem from Islamabad Capital Territory, and other senior government officials.

 Election reforms

The cabinet reviewed the proposal for election reforms including those related to Senate elections. It later decided to consult political parties to develop consensus on these proposals.

During the briefing, the members were told that there are a total of 39 proposals including those related to timely transfer and announcement of results, completion of election plan at least 4 month before the general election, allowing each candidate to appoint up to five polling agents and biometric voting.

The premier said the ruling PTI is the first party in the country’s history which took serious and practical steps to reform the election process. “Transparent polls process is basis of democratic system,” he said.

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