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‘Combative atmosphere is diminishing’: Sheikh Rashid says ECP, govt coming closer

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Monday said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the government were coming closer and the combative atmosphere between the two was diminishing.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, the interior minister said: “It is a good thing that the election commission and the government are coming closer [together]. That combative atmosphere is diminishing.”

He said there should be a cordial atmosphere between institutions so fair elections can be conducted.

The interior minister also said that many messages were spread in his name that he had written a letter in support of the chief election commissioner. He clarified that “I wrote a letter for him but [it was] for a federal position.”

Rashid’s comments came two days after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said much the same on Saturday, that issues with the institution were moving towards improvement. “We don’t have a personal dispute with the [chief] election commissioner or other election personnel so the hope is the situation there will improve,” Chaudhry had said.

Relations between the two institutions had deteriorated following a series of blistering attacks against the ECP by government ministers with Railways Minister Azam Swati accusing it of taking bribes and Chaudhry accusing the chief election commissioner of being the “opposition’s mouthpiece”. The ECP had subsequently issued notices on September 16 to the two, seeking evidence regarding the allegations and diatribe.

Responding to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s demand that the 2023 elections will be fair and transparent, Rashid gave his commitment that they would be. He added that the same was the prime minister’s opinion.

Regarding the PML-N president’s claim of politically burying the PTI in the 2023 elections, Rashid said: “Get prayers [carried out] for yourself and worry about yourself. The fight for inheritance has started in your family and where it will go two years later [no one knows].”

He predicted there would be three factions within the PML-N and it would be subject to internal strife and conflict two years later when a new political atmosphere would be present.

‘Good news soon’

Responding to a question on investigations into the alleged Indian link behind New Zealand’s tour cancellation to Pakistan, he said they had contacted the Interpol and “we will give good news to you soon.”

Speaking on the country’s security situation, he said that while threats from various terrorist organisations were present, the army was well-equipped and passionate about eliminating terrorism.

“If anyone raises their head for terrorism in the country, they will be trampled,” he said.

The interior minister said that it had been decided to introduce e-passports in Pakistan which would make it the first country in the region to do so.

He added that a summary was also being sent to the federal cabinet to approve 15 more countries for the provision of visa-on-arrival facilities, including the US, Canada, Iran and France.

Regarding the situation at the borders, he said the International Border Management System had been installed at Torkham and Chaman borders to track data of travellers. He also said that more people were going to Afghanistan than those coming from the country.

Media person and communication expert for over 25 years. Worked with Dow Jones News, World Bank, CNBC Pakistan, Aaj TV, ARY TV, Abbtakk TV, Business Recorder, Pakistan Observer, Online News Network, TTI Magazine and other local and world Publications.

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