Opposition will take part in Senate polls, says Rashid

Published December 19, 2020
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses the media in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid addresses the media in Islamabad on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Friday predicted that the anti-government opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would take part in the coming Senate elections.

“Why is the opposition worried about early holding of Senate polls if it is not interested in contesting them?” he asked while addressing a press conference at the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) headquarters.

About the opposition’s criticism over conduct of Senate polls in February, he said there was a provision for it in the Constitution.

Alluding to Article 224(3) of the Constitution, the minister insisted that Senate polls could be held on any date after Feb 11 before expiry of term of half of its members.

He warned the opposition about enactment of stringent laws against corruption and money laundering that would “make it cry” if the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) secured majority in the Senate.

Hints at enactment of tough anti-graft laws if PTI secures majority in upper house of parliament

He advised the opposition to find out a middle way instead of hurling threats of resignations and marches.

The minister said the opposition’s protest could not remove the democratically elected government and it was bound to fail. “Prime Minister Imran Khan is not going anywhere.”

Mr Rashid also blamed the opposition for risking lives of the people to achieve their political objectives by ignoring the massive threat posed by the more lethal second wave of Covid-19.

Replying to a question about extradition of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif to Pakistan, the interior minister candidly ruled out the possibility of his early return, pointing out that Pakistan and the UK had no extradition treaty.

Mr Rashid said he did not want to make a claim that Mr Sharif was coming back in January or February only to make breaking news.

“Earlier, the government could not bring back former finance minister and PML-N leader Ishaq Dar. God knows better when Nawaz Sharif will be brought back.”

Talking about the decisions taken during his first visit to Nadra as interior minister, Mr Rashid said 50 new registration centres would be opened in the country that would operate 24 hours a day throughout the week.

He said Nadra registration centres would be opened at all tehsil headquarters of the country.

He also announced that first-time applicants for computerised national identity cards (CNICs) would now get free-of-cost cards within 15 days, instead of 40.

He said offices for issuance of passports and CNICs would be established under one roof at foreign missions of Pakistan abroad. These would be run by the embassies while Nadra officers would supervise these, he said.

The minister said the number of mobile registration vans of Nadra would be increased from 200 to 300 to enhance outreach of the authority to far-flung areas.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2020

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