ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage Barrister Syed Ali Zafar Thursday said that right of access to information was the prerogative of every citizen and the government was bound to provide information in all matters of public importance.
Talking to a private news channel, he said he strongly condemned the incidents of kidnapping and attacks against journalists as he vehemently believed in freedom of expression and right of access to information.
There should be no compromise on freedom of expression and freedom of access to information, he said and added. “It is the government’s responsibility to provide every information sought by anybody.”
He said if anyone was involved in anti-state activities he must be investigated according to the law.
The minister said that he had issued clear directions to the Pakistan Television for giving equal coverage to all political parties without discrimination, so that the people should know party manifestos of all the political parties.
He informed that the caretaker government would hold a press conference on Monday (June 11) to brief the nation in detail about current state of country’s economy, where the government would also present actual facts and figures about the power situation.
To a question, the minister assured that the caretaker government would try its best to control power load shedding during its term.
Asked whether he would like to share real information about the controversial projects such as Nandipur Power Plant with the public, he said independent institutions like National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had the mandate to investigate such matters and there would be no harm in sharing all the facts and figures of the Nandipur project.
Regarding holding of general election, Ali Zafar said the caretaker government would do its best to hold free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.
To a question regarding rumors of possible delay in elections, the minister said elections could be delayed due to election forms, delimitation of constituencies and FATA merger. However, he was confident the elections would be held on time as these issues would be settled.
The minister said Supreme Court solved the election form issue by ordering that an affidavit would be added to the nomination forms. This removed objections of the Election Commission as well as of the candidates.
Ali Zafar said delimitation of constituencies was necessary as the constituencies should be compact and not in the shape of islands. There were some mistakes in delimitation of constituencies which needed to be rectified, he added.
Ali Zafar said the caretaker government would only look into the short term issues and would not take permanent decisions, adding it was not their mandate to take long term decisions.
Talking about security in elections, he said armed forces and other security forces would fulfill their constitutional obligations, if the need arose.
He said all the political parties would be given level playing field to run their campaign in the elections.
Meanwhile, speaking at another private news channel’s programme, the minister underlined the need for consulting technical experts for preserving water in the country. Water was the basic facility and time had come to find the solution to that problem with the help of technical experts, he added.
Ali Zafar said 30 percent lesser snowfall and climate change had led to water shortage in the country. India, China and Afghanistan were building water reservoirs, while the Pakistani governments did not focus on it due to political reasons, he said.
To a question he said the appointment of caretaker chief minister of Punjab was the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan and election in Punjab would be conducted under an interim-chief minister.
Govt can’t shut down TV channels now