ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday directed Pakistan’s navy and air force to vacate state land that they had “encroached on”, especially in the federal capital’s National Park area.
The cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, once again invited the opposition to sit with the government to discuss important national issues, but said talks would not be held with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz and Altaf Hussain.
“They have no right to even lead their parties as they are not part of the parliament,” the meeting said.
The prime minister, however, decided to write a letter to the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif for consultation on the appointment of two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed that action be taken against the influential and powerful people as well as organisations that had encroached state land and asked the naval and air force authorities to re-demarcate their boundaries,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a press conference after the cabinet meeting.
He said that Islamabad Capital Police had also been asked to remove their check-posts from green areas.
“The prime minister wants action to be taken against the powerful who have encroached upon state land,” he added.
The minister said even the Centaurus Mall management had been asked to remove encroachments.
It may be mentioned here that the building is owned by Sardar Tanveer Ilyas, who is a leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and a hopeful for the slot of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) prime minister.
PM’s letter to Shahbaz
Fawad Chaudhry said as the process of open and backdoor talks between the government and opposition had started, the prime minister would shortly write a letter to Shehbaz Sharif to seek his consent on the appointment of two ECP members.
“However, the government would not discuss electoral reforms with fugitives like Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain,” he added.
Mr Chaudhry said many PML-N and PPP leaders were part of the parliamentary system and wanted its improvement, whereas Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Safdar, Fazlur Rehman and others sought to disrupt it for personal benefits.
The minister said for continuation of democracy, the government and the opposition would have to agree on certain basic issues and electoral reforms were vital in this regard.
He said the cabinet was briefed on the electronic voting machines (EVMs) by PM’s Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, Minister for Information Technology Syed Aminul Haque and Minister for Science and Technology Shibli Faraz.
He further said the PTI had presented 49 proposals for electoral reforms and if the opposition had any objection on EVMs, it should come up with suggestions.
The minister said the PTI had lost 10 by-elections, whereas the PML-N started levelling allegations of rigging after losing just one provincial assembly seat.