ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that funds will only be released if the next general election takes place via electronic voting machines (EVMs), stressing that the parliament has made the law and the election commission and other institutions should follow it.
“Election commission should play its role and take the issue to its logical conclusion,” he said, addressing a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Responding to a question if the government was pressurising and blackmailing the election commission over the issue of funds, the minister said: "Parliament is not a blackmailer, as it has made the law."
Talking about the supply of gas during the winter season, Fawad said that Pakistan’s indigenous gas reserves are depleting quickly. "We need to find an alternative strategy to the rising gas shortage," he emphasised.
The minister said that only 28 percent of people in Pakistan have access to gas. "More than 70 percent of people do not have access to gas, and in a way, these people are facilitating the remaining 28 percent, people," he remarked.
Announcing the cabinet's decision regarding the availability of gas to different sectors during the winter, he said the CNG sector will not have access to gas from December 1, 2021, to February 15, 2022. However, fertiliser and the export sectors will continue to have access to gas, he said.
The minister said that Pakistan will soon host an extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers to deliberate upon the Afghanistan crisis.
Turning to the threat of the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, the minister said that people should get vaccinated as it is the only way to protect against the virus.
He warned that the latest variant of the Covid-19 was "spreading 10 times faster," adding "people will have to face the fifth wave of the coronavirus."
Fawad also claimed that the prices of sugar have dropped significantly over the last few days.
Turning to the issue of the former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim's publishing of affidavit in a newspaper, the minister said that it's a part of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz's campaign against the judiciary and the military.
"Rana Shamim told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) today that it was not his affidavit," the minister said.
"How did the affidavit reach the paper and get published?" he asked.
A story published in The News stated that in 2018 Nisar influenced judicial proceedings to prolong the detention of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz following their conviction in the Avenfield apartments reference. As per the alleged affidavit, Shamim claims Nasir had travelled to GB for vacations in 2018 and on one occasion appeared “very disturbed” while speaking to his registrar on the phone, asking him to get in touch with a high court judge.
Earlier on Tuesday, when Justice Minallah asked Shamim if he had given the affidavit to a newspaper, he replied that he did not know how the document got leaked as it was sealed and kept with his family.
"I have not seen the affidavit. I had read the report in a newspaper," Shamim said. Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan, requested the high court to direct Shamim to present the "original" affidavit in the IHC.