On Tuesday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain signaled “progress” in the government’s opposition talks on electoral reform.
Briefing the media after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said that the federal cabinet was informed that the two sides had agreed on several points and further positive developments were likely. The cabinet was given a detailed briefing on electronic voting machines (EVMs), internet voting and biometric verification of voters, the minister said. He added that the introduction of EVMs was aimed at bringing transparency in the electoral system. The cabinet approved the interior ministry’s recommendation to continue the ban on the Tehreek-e-Lubaik Pakistan (TLP), Fawad said. He said that according to the law, the law ministry would approach the Election Commission of Pakistan to cancel the TLP symbol.
Fawad said the cabinet was informed that 85 more prisoners were being released in Saudi Arabia due to the efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan and a special plane would be sent to bring them back. He added that the Saudi government had already released hundreds of prisoners as promised by Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman during its visit to Pakistan. He added that efforts were underway to release Pakistanis imprisoned in various countries who were not involved in serious crimes.
Referring to the lack of security details, he said opposition politicians and former bureaucrats seem to be enjoying more security than cabinet members. He added that standard operating procedures and rules for providing government protection and protocol to private individuals were being reviewed. He said that the Prime Minister had informed the Cabinet that a record 500 million trees would be planted in the areas under PTI’s federal and provincial governments during the current monsoon season.
He said that the Cabinet was briefed about the encroachments in E-8 and E-9 sectors of Islamabad. All agencies, including the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy, were directed to remove the boundary walls on the green belt around the said sectors. “This is a clear message to all that encroachments will not be tolerated anywhere in the federal capital,” he said. The Chairman Capital Development Authority was directed to take all necessary steps to make Islamabad a city free from encroachments.
He said that Imran Khan also directed that the culture of VVIP clubs, where entry of common man was banned, should be eradicated and all resources should be used for the welfare of common people.
Fawad said the cabinet had approved a 15 per cent special allowance for Pakistan Armed Forces personnel as they had chosen not to increase their salaries during the last two years due to the economic crisis.
The Prime Minister observed that 15% allowance should also be given to Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Constabulary and directed the concerned authorities to take steps in this regard.
At the request of opposition leader Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh, Fawad said the cabinet had directed the inclusion of independents in the joint investigation team to ensure transparency in the investigation of cases against them. The cabinet also discussed a report by the Ministry of Refugees on Afghan Refugees in the country, he said. He added that Pakistan was already hosting more than 3 million Afghan refugees and was expecting more Agha citizens if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated.
Responding to questions from media persons, the Minister said that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law and Justice would jointly work out a strategy to cancel the election by the ECP for allotting the symbol to the TLP. ۔ He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would address election rallies in Azad Jammu and Kashmir. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he said, had already left for the United States in a state of despair that his party had no chance of winning the election. He said that about eight or nine candidates are contesting the elections on the ticket of the Independent Republic of Pakistan, adding that the same is true of the Vice President of PML-N Maryam Nawaz, who She said she was on a leisure trip. To AJK
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