Govt won’t talk to ‘unelected people, fugitives’
Fawad says Shehbaz’s statement that he wants to move forward is positive
Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry has lauded National Assembly Leader of Opposition Shehbaz Sharif’s statement in which he called for letting bygones be bygones but made it clear that the government will only talk to parliamentary leaders and not to unelected people or fugitives.
“Shehbaz Sharif Sahib’s statement that he wants to move forward is positive,” Chaudhry said on Tuesday in a reference to the PML-N president’s recent interview with a private TV channel. During the interview, Shehbaz had stressed the need for moving forward while learning lessons from the past.
The minister, who was briefing the media about a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, said the government is ready to talk to the opposition parties’ parliamentary leadership on electoral reforms and other issues but not with unelected people.
According to the minister, unelected people and fugitives like PML-N supreme leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman want to disrupt the system for their personal gains.
Several people in the PML-N and the PPP are part of the system and want to strengthen the system as well, he said.
“We will talk to the leadership in the parliament and not the ones outside the parliament; this is our stance that the leadership in the parliament should lead their respective parties.”
“Fugitives can’t dictate the parties; whether [MQM founder] Altaf Hussain or Nawaz Sharif they don’t have the right to lead their parties because they are fugitives of law and those running away from the law can’t run the parties,” Chaudhry said.
For the continuation of democracy, he said, the government and the opposition will have to agree on certain basic issues and electoral reforms are vital in this regard.
The minister said the government and the opposition will have to take a clear position on important issues, including the introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in elections and giving voting rights to overseas Pakistanis.
The information minister said the government has given 49 proposals with regard to electoral reforms and if the opposition doesn’t agree with them then they can suggest amendments or bring their own.
“If democracy has to flourish in this country then we will have to create a system in which all people have trust.” He said the government and the opposition have been discussing electoral reforms in a Senate committee and the speaker’s office is also being used to move things forward.
He said the PTI-led federal government does not want to criticize the PPP-led Sindh government but the provincial government should improve its performance to control the pandemic as the percentage of vaccinated people in the two cities is lower compared to the rest of the country.
“Sindh government lags behind when economic figures and performance is measured in various sectors. The federal government could only draw the attention of the provincial governments to their governance problems for the betterment of people.”
Chaudhry said the cabinet was informed that 23 more Pakistani prisoners have returned from Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of Pakistani citizens languishing in jails abroad due to petty crimes have been repatriated due to the personal efforts of the prime minister, he said.
“In the prime minister’s eyes, the criterion for judging the performance of Pakistani missions abroad is how they treat the compatriots living there and help them".
“The officials posted at the missions should not only respect the overseas Pakistanis like their own family members but also help resolve their problems,” he said.
Meanwhile, the cabinet allowed the extradition of a man, Mujahid Pervez, to the US.
The Pakistani national is allegedly accused of committing corruption and violating laws in the US and fled to Pakistan before the trial could commence in the US.
He said the premier directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to remove encroachments without any discrimination after the CDA chairman briefed the cabinet on encroachments in various sectors of Islamabad.
The encroachments from the green areas will be eliminated at all costs, he said.
Chaudhry said Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar told the cabinet that currently 24,000MW to 26,000MW of electricity is generated. Though additional electricity is available in the system, it cannot be transferred to masses due to the deteriorated distribution system.
Chaudhry said the cabinet was informed that the economy is moving in the right direction despite the pandemic and inflation is showing a downward trend.
The current account deficit is $1.9 billion, he said, adding it was $20 billion in 2018. He said the private sector was given Rs489 billion loans by the banks during the last fiscal year as compared to Rs75 billion in the previous year.
The industrial sector, he said, is booming due to the effective policies of the government. Duties on 61 items dealing with the Covid-19 have been abolished.
The cabinet also gave approval for the grant of loans of Rs315 billion to the youth under the Kamyab Jawan Programme.
He said the government has set the support price of cotton at Rs5,000 per 40kg, which would motivate the farmers to sow the crop. He revealed that the cabinet rejected a proposal to increase the salaries of ministers and ministers of state.