Pakistani society and the government’s response to the Sialkot lynching proves that “we are not India,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday.

The minister, addressing a post-cabinet meeting press conference, said the cabinet stressed the need to start a trial of the people involved in the lynching at the earliest and they be punished in line with the law.

“The state is responsible to provide protection to every citizen belonging to minority communities […] and we adhere to this principle,” Fawad said.

Violence against Muslims takes place “every now and then” in India and no one bats an eye, but in Pakistan, the entire nation stands unified against such acts, he said.

The cabinet and the Pakistani nation have condemned the Sialkot incident.

Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech, which was made during an event held in remembrance of the Sri Lankan national who was lynched in Sialkot, he said the premier had noted that the nation stood in unity against violence, just like it did when the attack on Army Public School took place in 2014.

ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES: Fawad said that the cabinet was briefed on electronic voting machines (EVM) and it stands very clear on the matter.

However, the Election Commission of Pakistan and the opposition must understand what this system is and why are of the view that it will smoothen the polling process.

“If you criticise and reject without understanding them that is where the problem arises. But if you say that you need time to contemplate on it, it is fine,” he said.

He said PTI’s sole aim behind rolling out EVMs was to conduct “free and fair” elections.

On the Opposition’s criticism of granting voting rights of overseas Pakistanis, he said it was “political suicide”, as it was crucial to give them the rights.

“Even Nawaz Sharif and his family reside out of Pakistan. Hasan Nawaz and Hussain Nawaz claim that they are British nationals and act like they have torn their Pakistani passports. However, we want to give them the right to cast their vote in favour of their papa’s party,” he said.

The minister said the cabinet was given a briefing on the prices of commodities.

He said the prices of essential commodities were coming down, as he cited last weeks’ Sensitive Price Indies (SPI), which fell by 0.48 percent.

The price of a bag of 20kg wheat flour is “stable across the country,” except for Karachi and Hyderabad, he added.

He said sugar is available at Rs90 across the country, except for Karachi and Islamabad, as he shared that the rate might come down in the coming days.

The minister also advised the salaried class to “adjust” according to inflation, as there were international factors that impacted the rates of essential commodities.

Fawad said that despite Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (PEMRA) directions to not air cabinet’s decisions based on sources, some channels had still done that.

“They ran a story that Prime Minister Imran Khan had banned federal ministers from travelling abroad […] However, if you only look at this week, Shafqat Mehmood is in Saudi Arabia, Moeed Yousaf is in Moscow, Shah Mahmood Qureshi is in Brussels, and Noor-ul-Haq Qadri is in UAE,” he said.

The information minister said he had no personal enmity with the PML-N, however, the only problem that he had was that they should not “hold marriages using the nation’s money”.

He was pleased to see PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz and Leader of the Opposition Hamza Shabaz sing during the wedding reception of Junaid Safdar, Fawad concluded.


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