ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of any airbase of the United States (US) in Pakistan as all such facilities were under its (Pakistan’s) own use.
It was the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which after coming into the power, ended ‘drone surveillance’ facility (given to the US in the past), Fawad said while briefing media persons about the decisions taken in the Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“All the airbases are under the use of Pakistan. Right now, no negotiations in this regard are underway as Pakistan cannot give any airbase [to any country],” he said while pointing out the policy statement given by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the Senate.
As regards the ‘premeditate truck attack’ on a Muslim family in Canada, the minister condemned the terrorist act. “The West, which always blames the Muslims for extremism, should do some soul-searching as a Muslim family was ‘ruthlessly’ martyred there.”
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan, time and again, had drawn the world’s attention towards Islamophobia by raising the issue vociferously at the global fora.
Unfortunately, Islamophobia had completely penetrated into the Western society, which was needed to be rectified through remedial measures at war-footing, he added.
The minister said the cabinet members offered ‘Fateha’ for the martyred of Ghotki’s train accident. The details of initial inquiry, being conducted into the incident, would be made public, he added.
Unfortunately, he said, the national institutions like Pakistan Railways were in a shambles due to illegal appointments, mismanagement and zero-investment by the previous regimes. It was the PTI government, which had launched the mega project of ML-I (Main Line-1) to improve the railway infrastructure, he added.
He held the previous regimes responsible for the tragedy as they had left an ‘inefficient’ Railways department behind. The accidents like Ghotki’s, were occurring in the country, owing to their decade-long sheer negligence.
Fawad said the PML-N government had spent huge amount of Rs 300 billion on the Orange Line Train in Lahore. The Railways would not have faced such gruesome situation, had the PML-N spent that amount on its betterment.
He said both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) during their rule went on the corruption spree and plundered the national wealth with impunity. They did not let any institution to flourish, and ruined them with illegal and political appointments.
Likewise, he added, both the parties had ruined the Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan International Airlines, and other institutions without any regret.
On the contrary, he said the PTI government had so far appointed heads of some 60 organizations on merit and apolitical basis, and not a single one had been challenged. All the appointments were made in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who fully believed in meritocracy and transparency, he added.
The minister urged the opposition to cooperate with the government for carrying out electoral reforms, advising them to refrain from using the Parliament for seeking relief in the corruption cases of their leaders.
He said the PTI had emerged as the single federal party of the country while the PPP and PML-N were relegated to Sindh and Central Punjab respectively, hoping that they would further squeeze to the particular areas in the next general elections.
About the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the next general election, he said the government had presented the electoral reforms bill in the Parliament in October last year with 49 amendments in the existing election laws.
“We want legislation on these amendments in consultation with the opposition parties, so that we can lead to such elections that will be acceptable to all,” he said.
Highlighting the importance of EVMs for fast and accurate compiling of the election results, the minister said it was a general observation that rigging allegations were mostly leveled during the time gap between the end of polling and announcement of results, and the use of EVMs would help remove any loopholes in that regard.
Commenting on the I-voting, the minister said giving vote right to the overseas Pakistanis was one of the top agendas of the PTI government. I-voting, he added, would help around eight to nine million expatriates to exercise their right to vote, who were playing a vital role in strengthening the national economy.
“Accordingly, we have presented a comprehensive report to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Besides, the ECP has received a report on I-voting from an independent consultant.”
He said all technologies with regard to the EVM were in hand and all manufacturers were busy in its production.
Fawad said the Information Ministry had also ordered for the purchase of 500 EVMs for conducting election of press clubs and bar associations.
The minister said it was unfortunate that the PML-N had filed a petition in the court against the voting right to the overseas Pakistanis, while the PPP’s response over the matter was still awaited.
He said the opposition’s narrative on inflation and economic deterioration had been completely fizzled out as all the economic indicators were on upward trajectory due to prudent policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He added some Rs 1,100 billion had been given to the farmers, GDP growth projected at 3.9 per cent and remittances had reached to the ‘record’ level.
The minister said the Federal Cabinet had rejected the Pakistan Television Corporation’s (PTV) request for singing an agreement with Indian channels to put cricket matches on display. However, the government was working on an alternative plan for the purpose.
“Ties with India cannot be improved unless it reverses its August 5, 2019 action,” he maintained while citing the reason behind rejection of the PTV’s request.
Fawad said the Federal Cabinet was informed that around 17 million people were reaping benefits of the Ehsaas Programme, which was being digitized to make it more transparent.
He said the former chairman of National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) Tariq Malik had been reappointed as he was well-versed of the organization’s functioning.
The minister said the Federal Cabinet had accorded approval to the appointment of Najib Agrawala as chairman of the First Women Bank, and Bushra Ehsan, Sabiha Sultan, Akbar Ali, Wajahat Rasool Khan and Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi as members of its its Board of Directors.
The initiative would pave the way for privatization of the First Women Bank, he added.
The Federal Cabinet okayed the appointment of Aamir Mohiuddin, an officer of BS 20 Secretariat Group, as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pakistan Housing Authority Foundation. The appointment of Justice (Retd) Zia Pervaiz as member of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforce Disappearances also got its nod.
Fawad said the cabinet okayed the re-appointment of Umer Hameed Lodhi as Managing Director of the Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan. Naveed Ismael was appointed as a member of BoD of K-Electric, he added.