ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said Prime Minister Imran Khan in his capacity as chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) would soon visit Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to run the election campaign of the party candidates.
“He (the PM) will address a public meeting. This is the right of the prime minister to go there (AJK). He will be going there not in his capacity as the prime minister, but as the chairman of the PTI,” said the information minister in response to a question during a news conference on Wednesday.
“If PTI chairman will not hold a public meeting there (AJK) then will we ask some media owner to go and do a public meeting,” he put a counter-question to a reporter who had asked as to how the prime minister could lead the election campaign in Azad Kashmir.
The minister said it was the right of the PTI chairman to run the election campaign of the party candidates in AJK.
Mr Chaudhry said the prime minister had made an offer to the opposition on the floor of the National Assembly for a dialogue on electoral reforms. He said basically there were two parliamentary committees – one for reviewing the legislations that were passed by the National Assembly recently and the other to discuss the electoral reforms.
Says govt awaits opposition’s proposals on electoral reforms; PML-N has submitted names for parliamentary committee, insists Marriyum
He said the opposition wanted that the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2021 that was passed by the assembly on June 7 should be debated in the house again.
The information minister said the government had already made public its 49 proposed changes in the election laws and system and given them to the opposition.
“We are waiting for the proposals from the PPP and the PML-N so that we can formally proceed further on it,” he declared.
Mr Chaudhry said the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had already nominated Syed Naveed Qamar as its focal person to talk with the government on the issue of electoral reforms whereas the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had not suggested any name so far.
He said National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser had informed him that the PML-N had not nominated any focal person for this purpose.
He said they were waiting for the PML-N to nominate someone as its focal person for further progress on the issue.
When contacted, PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb, however, said her party had already provided names of its members for inclusion in the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.
“Perhaps, the speaker has not informed the minister considering him an unimportant person,” she said, apparently in response to a recent remark by the information minister about her, saying that she did not know the party policy.
Ms Aurangzeb said the bill passed by the National Assembly had now been transmitted to the Senate and they would now wait for the proposals coming from the upper house of the parliament.
She said when the bill would come back to the National Assembly they would get an opportunity to have a debate on it again.
In response to a question, Ms Aurangzeb said the PML-N had postponed its proposed All Parties Conference (APC) on the issue of electoral reforms as all the political parties were presently busy in the campaign for the upcoming AJK polls. She expressed the hope that the conference could be held after the AJK polls which were scheduled to be held on July 29.
It was after initially rejecting the government’s offer for talks that PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif had announced that his party would host an APC on the issue of electoral reforms and he had even made contacts with the heads of other opposition parties for this purpose.
Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2021