LAHORE: Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National Heritage and Energy Syed Ali Zafar on Sunday said that the accountability court’s decision against former prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz would not affect the holding of the general elections on time.
“There is no provision in the constitution regarding the postponement of the election, which would be held on July 25 as per schedule,” he said during ‘Meet the Press Programme’ here at the Lahore Press Club.
Answering a question, the minister said that the father-daughter duo would be arrested on their return to Pakistan if they were not provided with any relief by the court. “It is a responsibility of everyone to obey the court’s orders,” he added.
He said that the law was equal for everyone and as per the constitution, the government should not interfere with the working of institutions; it is responsible to implement court decisions instead of criticising them. He assured that the caretaker federal government would never influence the institutions, including the judiciary and National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
In reply to another question, Ali Zafar said that Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar would be arrested after the completion of all legal requirements and that the relevant institutions are working in this regard. “The government is extending all possible help to NAB,” he said.
In regard to reports of placing the names of Asif Ali Zardari and his sister on the Exit Control List (ECL), he said that it was the government’s responsibility to assess each and every case in the light of rules and regulations.
He said that the committee formed on ECL by the interim government had discussed around 60 cases and sent its recommendations to the Federal Cabinet for a final decision.
Responding to another query, he said that the name of Zulfi Bokhari was included in the ‘blacklist’, which was a temporary arrangement at the interior secretary’s level. “Had his name been included in the ECL, he could not have gone abroad without the cabinet’s permission,” he stated.
About the media’s access to polling stations and booths, the minister said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had prepared the code of conduct for the polling day, and so far two meetings have been held with the commision in this regard. “The government is making efforts to ensure access of both local and foreign media to the polling process, besides facilitating foreign election observers,” he said.
Furthermore, while speaking about water issues, Zafar said that water was available in three main rivers of the country despite climate change but unfortunately only two mega dams had been built since the inception of Pakistan, contrary to the 1965 water report that suggested the construction of 14 to 20 dams.
He stressed on the need for building new water reservoirs, emphasising that other countries spend 20 to 25 per cent of their development budget on the water sector but Pakistan allocates only five to seven per cent on that count.
He further added that 90 per cent of the water available in Pakistan is consumed by the agricultural sector and called for adopting modern and efficient water usage techniques under the concept of ‘drop for a crop’ to conserve maximum water. “We use drinking water for sewerage and other purposes as well; therefore, we should adopt the sewerage water treatment method to use that water for other purposes,” he suggested.
The minister said that he had compiled a list of water experts across Pakistan and contacted them. He informed that the experts have sought a months time in order to provide him with a guideline document detailing how to solve the country’s water problems.
He concluded by saying that there was a tough competition between print and social media; however, the young generation mostly relied on social media, which has fake and concocted material/news stories.
“The print media can counter social media and restore its credibility by relying only on true and fact-based news stories,” he said.
‘MURDER OF JUSTICE’
Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former federal minister of information Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday termed the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) verdict against the party Quaid Nawaz Sharif tantamount to ‘murder of justice’.
Addressing a press conference in Model Town on Sunday, Marriyum said that PML-N has always followed the rules and regulations and it would not take the law into its hands on the return of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
“PML-N categorically rejected this [Avenfield reference] verdict. Masses will announce history verdict on July 25 [Election Day]”, she warned.
The former information minister tagged the Avenfield verdict as an extension of verdicts against democracy.
“PML-N will continue its struggle to restore the sanctity of the vote,” Marriyum Aurangzeb concluded.