Pak paying price for saying ‘absolutely not’ to US

Fawad says nations have to pay such kinds of prices if they want to hold their heads high


Rizwan Shehzad September 21, 2021
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses media persons in Islamabad. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said that the withdrawal of England and New Zealand teams from cricket series against Pakistan was a result of Prime Minister Imran Khan saying “absolutely not” to the United States.

In July, the premier had categorically stated that he would not allow the US to use Pakistan as a base for its Afghan operations and the statement caused quite a stir and generated debate on mainstream and social media.

At the news conference after the cabinet meeting, chaired by the prime minister, the information minister said that Pakistan was paying the price of saying “absolutely not” to the US. “Nations have to pay such kinds of prices if they want to hold their heads high; this is such a small price to pay; nations keep paying such prices,” he added.

“If you say ‘absolutely not’ then it has a price that you have to pay,” the information minister said in response to a question about the cabinet’s discussion on the back-to-back withdrawals by England and New Zealand. “I think the nation of Pakistan is ready to pay the price and tackle such challenges.”

The government spokesperson said that he along with the interior minister would soon share the details in detail about what was actually happening and people would see how hybrid war and fake news were interlinked, adding that the people would also see how fake emails and fake threats are created and how big the outcome is of such practices.

All these details along with charts and links would soon be shared with the people, Fawad said, adding that back-to-back withdrawals by cricketing teams have caused a loss of roughly Rs200-Rs250 million to the Pakistan Television alone. “We have initiated discussion with our lawyers to examine how we can take them to courts,” Fawad said. “This is an extremely unfortunate thing.”

England withdrew both the men’s and women’s teams from next month’s tour of Pakistan on Monday, three days after New Zealand abandoned their tour of the country amid security concerns.

Meanwhile, the information minister said that the cabinet has decided that the next general elections would be held on the basis of the 7th consensus and new delimitations, adding that the process would be completed with the help of technology in 18 months or 540 days before the next elections. He said the prime minister has constituted a special committee on the issue to finalise the modalities.

On TikTok, the information minister said that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has prepared a policy directive that would be submitted before the Islamabad High Court, adding that the federal government has the right to remove objectionable content from social media.

On the laws regarding social media, Fawad said that the government has a strategy to catch companies that delay blocking pornographic material and amend laws to pursue action against individuals making objectionable videos in Pakistan. He said that a new policy debate is being started on social media and Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari will lead it.

Read Govt to mull legal action against NZ, England cricket boards over losses incurred

Moreover, the minister revealed that the premier has expressed that the lawmakers having a direct conflict of interest should not be a part of the committees of the National Assembly and Senate, adding that the government would ask the NA speaker and Senate chairman to remove all such lawmakers from such committees as, otherwise, the new legislation would be tabled.

For the revival of cinema, Fawad said the government would also import movies from different countries to support cinemas in Pakistan. Canadian-Punjabi, Iranian and Turkish films will be screened, he said, adding that the government will try to lift Covid restrictions on cinemas soon.

Sharing the news that Pakistan only had one polio case in the last seven months, the minister announced that the government has approved a 44% increase in the house rent for Grade 1 to 22 employees in the wake of a spike in overall rents. The minister said that the government has also approved the establishment of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) centres in Islamabad that would initially handle family cases.

Declaring the electoral reforms “need of the hour”, Fawad regretted that the opposition was only interested in saving their looted money, saying that the government has time and again approached the opposition for evolving consensus on electoral reforms but they could not see beyond personal interests.

He said the government has a clear vision to give voting rights to overseas Pakistanis who are the backbone of the national economy. “It is not possible that we do not allow overseas Pakistanis to cast their votes in the election,” he added. In response to a question about the meeting with opposition leaders, he said the opposition leaders visited the NA speaker a few days ago.

The minister said the cabinet accorded approval to include Uzbekistan in the business visa category list, saying the move was aimed at strengthening ties with the Central Asian state as well as providing relief to the business community of the two countries.

The forum also accorded approval to hire services of M/s KPMG Taseer Hadi and Co for the audit of the National Database and Registration Authority financial accounts for the fiscal year 2020-21.

On inflation, he said the prices of petroleum products and gas were the lowest in the country as compared to the region and several other countries. Among other things, he said the government was reviewing the policy of export of vegetables to stabilise their prices in the local market.

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