LONDON: Electronic voting machines will not be used in the next general election, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Thursday. He, however, said that the government will take measures to give representation to expats.
The statement came after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and federal ministers’ meeting with the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif at his son Hussain Nawaz’s residence in London. This was the second meeting since the prime minister and his delegation flew to London to meet Nawaz.
The minister, flanked by federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal and Marriyum Aurangzeb, said while speaking to Pakistani media that the incumbent government will “abolish” the idea of EVMs. He also briefed the media about decisons made in the meeting.
Sanaullah appreciated the statement by the Pakistan Army spokesman about military leadership’s decision to steer clear of the politics and avoid being dragged into it by any means.
“PML-N welcomed ISPR Director General Major General Iftikhar Babar’s statement issued on Thursday that Pakistan Army would stand by its constitutional role and no attempt should be made to drag it into politics by any political party.
“What DG ISPR said was a vindication of Nawaz Sharif’s stance that all institutions should stay out of political matters and play their constitutional role only,” he said.
Sanaullah went on to say that this is the narrative of Nawaz Sharif that institutions should not get involved in politics. He said it’s a welcome step that the judiciary and other institutions stayed away from politics and that’s the reason why a vilification campaign against the army and judiciary is being run by Imran Khan.
When asked about PTI leader Fawad Chaudhary’s call on Pakistan Army that “chowkidar” should play its role and hold elections and response to the DG ISPR’s statement that it was not the military’s job to hold elections, Sanaullah said that the statement is as per the Constitution.
“Fawad Chaudhry has used derogatory language for the armed forces of Pakistan which we condemn.”
He further stated it had been decided that PTI’s planned dharna in Islamabad would be dealt with an iron hand and there would be zero tolerance, any anyone trying to provoke violence would not be spared.
When asked if former PM Imran Khan would be arrested, the interior minister said there would be no arbitrary arrest, but anyone found involved in illegal activities would be arrested and dealt with an iron hand after all legal requirements are met.
He said the meeting discussed PTI’s planned march on Islamabad for dharna at the end of this month. “Nawaz Sharif has guided us on the plan of action but since we are in a coalition, we will place all suggestions before our partners for a joint decision. Forget about two million people, Imran Khan will be unable to bring 20,000 people and that if we don’t allow, he will not be able to bring out 20 people.”
Sanaullah said that it had been decided that the “dirt” and “corruption” left behind by the PTI government should be brought before the nation. On the next elections, Sanaullah said the decision was in the hands of coalition partners and “if allies want us to go for early elections, then we will do that”.
The meeting took stock of the mess Imran Khan has left behind by destroying the economy and social fabric of society and he is misleading the nation, said Sanaullah.
“Nawaz Sharif has provided us guidelines and educated us” on how to move forward.”
Meanwhile, federal minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said the basic purpose of the visit was to take stock of the real existing situation of the country and seek guidance from Nawaz Sharif as “he is the most senior statesman of Pakistan and we wanted to consult him so that in coming days the government could steer the country out of crises on a fast pace. Pakistan’s economy is in a really bad shape and PTI has left it in a complete mess.
The national leadership will have to steer the country out of this crisis. This is a coalition government and all its decisions should be through mutual discussions and understanding. “We will take our partners in confidence on everything that we discussed with Nawaz Sharif. The national leadership will play its role to bring the country out of crises”.
Ahsan said former premier Imran Khan was “an enemy of the country” and “he is targeting Pakistan’s constitution and Pakistani institutions. He lies all days and has been involved in violation of the constitution; we will not tolerate it because Pakistan belongs to us all.
Imran Khan has lost his mind and he wants to destroy institutions by running a vilification campaign against the constitution. He says he is running a campaign for freedom but he had surrendered before the IMF and sold out the State Bank of Pakistan. He has claimed that he never asked anyone for aid, but he has asked for donations all his life”.