• Committee to address the concerns of the ECP
• Former CJP’s audio leak denounces work of Maryam’s social media team
• The minister claims the prices of food items have come down significantly
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday set up a ministerial committee to conduct the 2023 general elections through Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), in which more than 9 million foreign Pakistanis will exercise their franchise for the first time.
The committee includes advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, Railways Minister Azam Swati, Science and Technology Minister Shibli Faraz, Information Technology Minister Aminul Haque and the Attorney General.
It will also address the concerns of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The recent issues were discussed in depth in the weekly cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. audio leak Former Chief Justice of Supreme Court Saqib Nisar. The meeting termed the audio as “fake and fabricated”, claiming it was engineered by “the social media team of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz”.
An inquiry commission report on 2020 oil crisis/hoarding of petroleum products was also presented before the cabinet, which revealed that oil marketing companies had illegally earned Rs 5.52 billion through hoarding.
According to the report, the owners of more than 2,000 petrol pumps had illegally benefited from this scam.
In a press conference after the cabinet meeting, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said: “The cabinet reiterated the government’s resolve to conduct the next general election through EVMs at all costs.”
He said that a ministerial committee would be in touch with the ECP to ensure the implementation of the recently passed Law on electoral reforms
“The committee will finalize the specifics regarding the use of EVMs in the next elections like cost and number of machines,” he said.
Though the ECP has already raised questions on the use of EVMs, the minister said the entire country, including the government, the opposition and the people, wanted reforms in the existing electoral system.
He said that both the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) are against the use of EVMs and giving the right to vote to foreign Pakistanis.
In a lighter vein, Fawad Chaudhry said that both the sons of Nawaz Sharif, who have never participated in Pakistan’s elections, will be able to vote.
Blaming Maryam Nawaz for the fake leak, the information minister said, “She was involved in making fake videos and had formed a special team for the purpose.”
He said that he may have even produced videos of some PML-N leaders to keep them under his control.
He said the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) strongly condemned the act and expressed hope that the issue would reach its logical conclusion and the government would follow the court’s directions on the matter.
Mr Chowdhary claimed that the prices of food items had come down significantly, but the media was reporting otherwise.
“Sugar is selling between Rs 90 and Rs 95 and the price is expected to come down to Rs 80-85 per kg in the coming weeks,” he said, adding that the prices of tomato, onion and garlic have also come down significantly. .
He said the government had launched two programs to provide relief to the people, but the prices of commodities were still high in Sindh, especially Karachi.
Mr Chowdhary said Sindh was asked to release wheat and start sugarcane crushing in time, but it did not comply with the instructions, adding that the 40 per cent inflation data of the Sensitive Price Index included the figures for Karachi. Were.
He said in Lahore a 20 kg sack of wheat flour was available for Rs 1,100, while in Karachi it cost Rs 1,460.
Similarly, the price of sugar in Karachi was Rs 107 while in major cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the commodity was available at Rs 90 per kg.
He said that the federal government is importing wheat worth $700 million, while the Sindh government is claiming that its wheat is being stolen.
The minister said several seminars were organized in Lahore and Islamabad last week which received funding from abroad. On the other hand, the Supreme Court Bar Association in its press release distanced itself from the speeches made against the judiciary at a conference in Lahore. The minister said that the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance 2021 has also been approved to pave the way for holding LG elections in the federal capital.
Regarding cadastral mapping of the state’s land, Mr. Chowdhury said that the Sindh government had refused to share the data in this regard.
“The reason for refusal was that more than Rs 5,000 billion of the state’s forest land was in illegal occupation in Sindh,” he said, adding that land worth Rs 5.6 trillion had been reclaimed and forests would be grown on it. .
Responding to a question, the Information Minister said that PTI was the only party that had submitted complete records of foreign funding to the ECP.
Similarly, Prime Minister Khan also presented his money trail in court, Mr Chowdhury said, adding that the Election Commission should seek details of foreign funds from other political parties.
The minister said the federal cabinet has given permission for the transportation of Indian food aid to Afghanistan via Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, November 24, 2021