Nawaz Sharif to be treated as per law on return: info minister

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Caretake Information Minister Murtaza Solangi is addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club on September 24, 2023. — PID
Caretake Information Minister Murtaza Solangi is addressing a press conference at Karachi Press Club on September 24, 2023. — PID
  • ECP responsible for conducting free, fair, transparent elections: minister. 
  • Says rupee gained 30 to 35 against dollar due to administrative measures
  • Rs8 billion has been recovered from electricity thieves: Solangi.

Caretaker Federal Minister for Information Murtaza Solangi has said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif did not go to London after jailbreak and will be treated according to the law on his return, Geo News reported.

Addressing a press conference on the occasion of his visit to the Karachi Press Club (KPC), the caretaker minister said that Nawaz had been three times prime minister of the country and was the Quaid of a big political party.

He said that he did not go abroad after a jailbreak but with the permission of the court and former government. 

Solangi said that he could not answer whether Nawaz would secure protective bail or move court, adding the answer is to be given by PML-N Quaid himself or the law and Constitution of the country.

He said that as per the Constitution, the country’s affairs would be run by its elected representatives.

His statement comes as Nawaz, who has been living in London since November 2019 on health grounds, has announced his return to Pakistan on October 21 this year to lead the party’s election campaign.

He stepped down as the country’s prime minister in 2017 after he was disqualified for life from holding public office by the Supreme Court for not declaring a receiveable salary. 

‘ECP responsible for holding free, fair elections’

In the same presser, the minister said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was responsible for conducting free, fair, transparent, and impartial elections under Article 218(3) of the Constitution.

He said the caretaker government would play its full role in holding free and fair elections. Delimitation of constituencies would be completed by November 30 and after that, the final date of the elections would also be given.

The information minister said the rupee gained 30 to 35 against the greenback due to administrative measures taken by the interim government in the last few days. 

He was referring to the military-backed crackdown launched by the authorities against hoarders, currency smugglers, and black marketeers after the rupee fell to a historic low of Rs308 in interbank and beyond Rs330 in the open market earlier this month.

“There are enough chances that the oil prices will be reduced in the next [fuel prices] announcement,” the minister said, adding the interim government has no role in fuel prices as they are linked with international oil rates. “[…] people will get some benefit of reduction in the value of the dollar,” he remarked.

To another question, he said that about Rs8 billion had been recovered from electricity thieves. Due to electricity theft, other consumers are burdened and there is a need to correct this system.

In response to a question, the minister said that if someone had any reservations about the ECP, he could knock at the door of the courts.

He said the caretaker setup had a limited mandate and time duration and they wanted to improve the economy of the country while remaining in their constitutional ambit.

In response to a question, the caretaker minister said the ECP had announced the holding of elections in the last week of January. The caretaker government would help the commission in every way and all the requirements of the ECP would be fulfilled.

To a question, the interim minister said that there was no bar on uttering the name of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman, adding that all the registered political parties would be given a level-playing field and that no party had been banned.

Terming the KPC as his old home, he said it has been an important front in the evolution of democracy in the country. He said the KPC had a historical status and its role in the freedom of expression, knowledge and people’s right to rule was praiseworthy. 

He said that the working class and oppressed people of Pakistan also come to the KPC and explain their pains and sufferings.

Solangi said that he was aware of the hardships suffered by the journalists as there were problems related to their jobs.

The current caretaker government was a constitutional and legal government under Article 224 of the Constitution and during its tenure, injustice cannot be done to journalists, he declared. He said that measures would be taken together with the PIO to solve the problems of journalists.

To a question related to non-payment of salaries to media workers and journalists, the caretaker federal minister said that government advertisements would not be issued to media houses not paying salaries to their employees.

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