ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has once again called for holding elections immediately after Haj to cash in on the “high popularity graph of Prime Minister Imran Khan”.

Speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday, the minister said he had advised the prime minister to unveil a pro-poor federal budget for the next financial year before the country goes for snap polls.

“The prime minister should present a good budget because oil and wheat prices are high across the globe, there’s IMF, FATF and so many other problems ... Imran Khan should give a good budget and hold elections immediately after Haj,” he said.

Says PM to launch e-passport facility today

Mr Rashid said the prime minister would “play till the last ball” and expressed the hope that the no-trust motion against Mr Khan would be defeated.

He said that international conspiracies were being hatched to oust Imran Khan. “They will fail miserably,” he asserted.

The minister said the debate on the no-confidence resolution would begin on Thursday (March 31) and the voting on the motion would take place on April 3.

He expressed the hope that the opposition would not be able to bring 172 members to the National Assembly on the day of voting.

“Winning and losing is part of politics,” he remarked and noted that the majority of the people were with Imran Khan.

“Some people lose despite winning in politics,” he added.

Mr Rashid welcomed Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s decision to stand by the government and expressed the hope the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan would follow suit.

He said that an official notification declaring the office of Punjab chief minister vacant would be issued after formal acceptance of Usman Buzdar’s resignation.

The minister revealed that the Islamabad police foiled an attack in the capital and arrested four “terrorists”. The suspected terrorists have been identified as Mohammad Ismail, Mohammad Ismail, Zafran, and Mohammad Shehzad. One of the suspects, Raees, managed to flee, he said.

“These terrorists had ill intentions but Allah helped us,” he said, adding that he was optimistic everything would go smoothly on April 3, too.

Mr Rashid said that four terrorists who were involved in the Kocha Risaldar blast — a suicide attack inside a Shia mosque in Peshawar that killed over 60 people — had been killed in an operation.

The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan would launch the e-passport facility on Wednesday. He said the new chip-imbedded passport would have 29 latest security features. “It will be the biggest up-gradation of Pakistani passport since 2004,” he added.

He said the e-passport holder would enjoy the e-gate facility at all airports around the world. Initially, this facility would be available for holders of red (diplomatic) and blue (official) passports.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2022

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