Islamabad: Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz has said that the government wants complete transparency in Senate elections and it is considering introducing constitutional amendment to conduct them through open balloting.

The Minister for Information, while elaborating on the details of the cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan, said that the PTI government has always advocated for transparency in elections. He said that the Senate is an Upper House of Parliament, but unfortunately charges of rigging and bribing have always popped up whenever its elections were held. He said the opposition’s major parties Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), in a Charter of Democracy ,pledged transparency in Senate elections as well, yet now they are opposing open balloting, which is not fair.

“The Prime Minister, all his life, has struggled for fair and free elections, and now he wants that the debate of rigging should end once and for all,” Shibli Faraz remarked.

Regarding the Broadsheet case, he said that the government made the payment because it was the obligation of the Government of Pakistan, regardless of who is in the government, that it pays this amount. Otherwise they could charge 5000 pounds as mark-up on a daily basis, he said.

He said this is 20-years-old case and Pakistan Tehkreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government or any of its members have nothing to do with it. The opposition’s objections over the nomination of Justice (retd) Azmat Saeed Sheikh are not justified, he added. He reiterated that Justice Azmat Saeed will head a single member commission to probe this matter, and this Commission will be formed under the Inquiry Act. The Minister of Information dispelled the impression that government ministers and members will be part of this Commission.

Regarding issuance of Sukuk Bonds, Shibli Faraz said the impression was created that the government was mortgaging F-9 Park out of desperation, which is not true. He said Sukkuk is a Islamic financial instrument and, as per its requirement, the government can only raise funding against any asset. He added that Islamic banks right now do not have avenues to invest, which is why the government wants to help them out. Otherwise, the government could raise funding on its own guarantee. He pointed out that previous and present government had pledged to promote Islamic banking, and want to increase its share in banking system to 30 %.

Shibli Faraz said that during the present government, debt increased by Rs 11 trillion, out of which Rs 6 trillion was paid to clear loans and mark-up. The impact of devaluation was Rs 3.5 trillion, while Rs 1.5 trillion was paid under the Prime Minister’s stimulus package to offset the impact of COVID-19 during lockdown last year.       


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