Cabinet approves use of EVMs, voting rights for expatriates


Fawad warns against non-implementation of SOPs in Karachi

Sharafat Kazmi

The Federal Cabinet presided over by the Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday has approved two ordinances as part of electoral reforms to ensure transparency in elections.

“One ordinance will enable the Election Commission of Pakistan to use electronic voting machines in elections, while the other empowers the ECP to take steps to give the overseas Pakistanis right to franchise”.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said this while briefing the media about the decisions taken in the Federal Cabinet meeting.

About proposed electoral reforms, the minister explained that out of 49 point electoral reforms, there was consensus of all political parties on 40 points, whereas the opposition raised the objection that the draft had been forward but the Prime Minister had not invited them.

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the government’s electoral reforms consist of four parts, including EVMs, e-voting for overseas Pakistanis, Biometric and Legislation.

He said EVMs have been developed and the government has unveiled its legislative agenda for the purpose. He said work is underway on Biometric and E-voting.

To this, Premier Imran wrote a letter to the Speaker National Assembly asking him to start a formal dialogue with the opposition on electoral reforms: a few days ago he again in a tweet called for dialogue over the electoral reforms agenda but the opposition was not interested.

The minister regretted that unfortunately the two major opposition parties were handed over to politically immature persons who could not understand things and the importance of the Parliament.

However, the minister added that the government would involve civil society, media persons and bar councils to evolve broader consensus on the matter.

He said that if the PPP and PML-N had no interest in electoral reforms and the nation was witness to their negative attitude.

Referring to the ECP’s decision of recounting of votes in the by-election in NA-249 Karachi, the Minister said re-polling should be held in the constituency because the winning candidate will be getting only five percent votes.

Replying to a question about Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the minister explained that Prime Minister Imran Khan would leave for Saudi Arabia on 25th of Ramazan.

He added during his stay there besides performing Umrah, he would hold meetings with top Saudi leadership including Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

He believed the visit would greatly contribute to further expansion of bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries.

Speaking about the Covid situation in the country, the Information Minister said the Covid SOPs are not being implemented in letter and spirit in Karachi, and the Sindh Government should look into it.

He said the Cabinet has approved the Sindh Government’s request for deployment of the army for ensuring implementation of the SOPs.

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the Cabinet approved 90-day remission to jail prisoners on the occasion of Eid ul Fitr. However, this remission will not applicable to the prisoners of heinous crimes.

He said the facility of succession certificates through NADRA is also being provided to overseas Pakistanis, and in the first phase, desks are being opened in twenty-four embassies.

He said the Cabinet has approved issuance of a commemorative coin to pay tribute to NED University Karachi on 100 years of its establishment.

The Minister said the Cabinet also approved to waive off 10 percent withholding tax on private sector bids in Railways.

Responding to a question, the Minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia will greatly contribute to expand bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said in categorical terms in the Federal Cabinet meeting that the honor of the Prophet PBUH was above all for every Muslim and there would be no compromise on the blasphemy law.

Prime Minister said that there would be no compromise on the blasphemy and asserted that ‘we do not make decisions under any pressure, as the Holy Prophet is above all for every Muslim’.

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