Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is the most popular leader in Pakistan as the people, who voted him to power, are still his ardent fans.
Even in the next general elections, Imran Khan would get the majority votes and be the prime minister for another tenure, he said this while speaking during BBC's ‘Hard Talk’ programme on Friday.
"@ImranKhanPTI is one of the most popular elected leaders of 🇵🇰. We have immense respect for establishment but it is Imran Khan and his cabinet that takes all the decision."@fawadchaudhry, Hard Talk interview pic.twitter.com/VGFct0yYb3— Government of Pakistan (@GovtofPakistan) May 28, 2021
Responding to a question, he cautioned the host not to undermine the elected government of Pakistan as PM Imran received millions of votes in the last general elections.
“Imran Khan is the prime minister of a nuclear state... he and the cabinet take collective decisions.”
The government has due respect for the opinion of institutions but the decisions rested with the prime minister, he added.
Sharing the achievements of the government, Fawad said at present the country’s growth rate is 3.94%, despite the Covid-19 crisis. About Rs1,100 billion, he said, had shifted from the urban economy to the rural economy. “This year, Pakistan has got four bumper crops,” he said, adding that a record number of tractors had been purchased by farmers.
He said Pakistan’s response to Covid-19 had been one of the best in the world. He quoted the remarks of United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, “Pakistan has been a good example for the world with its pandemic related policies; Pakistan has done better than any other country.”
He added, "These words speak volumes of our successful strategy to deal with the Covid-19 situation."
In response to another question, the federal minister said 5.5 million people had been vaccinated in the country. Pakistan is among the top 34 countries in terms of vaccinating people. “The way we are going, [we will] achieve the targets of vaccination soon.”
He further reiterated that Pakistan is a great success story as far as dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic is concerned. "The partial lockdown strategy worked well, ….. in Pakistan, the situation is far better than any other country in the region.”
To a question, Fawad said the media in Pakistan is enjoying immense freedom. "Freedom of expression is a fundamental and democratic right guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan."
He said that Pakistan is one of the freest states as far as media is concerned. "There are about 43 international channels, including BBC; 112 local private channels; 258 FM channels; and 1,569 print publications, and in the presence of such kind of huge mass media, how could the state be accused of intimidating the media," he questioned.
Federal Minister of Information @fawadchaudhry reiterates PTI Govt's vision about Digital Pakistan and explains how Pakistan welcomes all the Tech companies to do business in Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/STQiPphruN— PTI (@PTIofficial) May 28, 2021
Regarding stopping a private channel from airing a BBC programme, the information minister said that the BBC is the most-watched international channel in Pakistan and the government had never obstructed its transmission. The BBC Urdu, he added, would be allowed to telecast its programmes subject to following the local laws.
Responding to a question in regard to an attack on journalist Asad Toor, Fawad said he immediately took cognisance of the matter. "A senior police officer is investigating it and those responsible for the act would be apprehended."
He said there is no justification in accusing any institution (of attacks) without any cogent evidence. Such individual incidents do happen everywhere in the world, Pakistan is no exception.
To another query, he said Pakistan had been fighting the scourge of terrorism as a front-line state. A number of people lost their lives in the war on terror. “This is not something limited to journalists, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was also martyred in a terrorist attack.” About 70,000 people had been killed in the war against terrorism, the minister added.
However, the incidents of attacking journalists, he said, had reduced after the present government assumed responsibilities under the leadership of PM Imran.
Fawad rejected the impression that laws had been passed in Pakistan to curb social media freedom. “Hate speech is a universally recognised fact that has to be curbed, all the states and organisations are duty-bound not to allow hate speeches,” he added.
He said he had huge respect for Google, Facebook, and other technology companies. “I want them to come to Pakistan to open their offices, we want to do business with them, we acknowledge their contribution to the world."
To another question, he said that as information minister of the fifth largest country in the world, he has full authority to make decisions about the affairs.