ISLAMABAD – Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed Wednesday said that the opposition was only playing to the gallery by getting more time on media over the issue of audio leak scandal.
They are “playing with the media,” the minister said while referring to the recently leaked audio clip of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar in which he allegedly passed directions to someone that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif would have to be sentenced to bring then opposition leader Imran Khan into power — an allegation that the former CJ has outrightly denied.
Speaking at a press conference here at NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) Headquarters, Sheikh Rashid said that ruling PTI was fortunate enough to have “inefficient opposition” like this. He said that these “video and audio leaks” were only meant to fill the media space for 24 hours a day.
He said that the last three meetings of Pakistan Democratic Movement, an alliance of opposition parties, have proved futile. He went on to say that the PDM had warned in last December last that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government would be sent packing but its efforts were to no avail. He said that PDM rally in Peshawar was a flop show and added that the opposition alliance has lost the ground. The minister underlined that first four or five months of 2022 would be spent in local bodies elections and then only a year would be left for the government to complete its tenure. “In the given circumstances, only a stupid can initiate an anti-government movement to create problems for it…The opposition has missed the train,” he said.
Sheikh Rashid reiterated that the PTI government would complete its five-year tenure and they would improve the present situation till next elections would be around.
Responding to questions, he said that India gave a gallantry award to its pilot Abhinandan Varthaman for getting “beautifully” shot down his fighter jet by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).
He said that threats hurled by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to Pakistan for conducting surgical or air strike stood no ground as Pakistan has matchless defence line in the presence of its Army. “Every Pakistani stands by Pakistan Army and for the defence of country… Any of Pakistan’s enemy should forget that it can create unrest on its borders.”
The interior minister said that PM Imran Khan has formed the ministerial committee on electronic voting machines (EVMs) and it would settle matters with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure that next polls were held through this technology.
He also said that NADRA has been directed to make preparations to ensure I-voting facility for 9 million overseas Pakistanis. “These voters will be backbone of PTI in next election and would give be a biggest support to the ruling party,” he said adding that PM Imran Khan was very popular among overseas Pakistanis and no one could compete with him at this front. He said that they had added some new categories in the upgraded online visa system. Earlier, the minister inaugurated upgraded system of Pakistan Online Visa System (POVS) here at the NADRA Headquarters. The system launched earlier in March 2019 was a cumbersome process with no access through smart phones and tablets, according to a statement issued by NADRA.
The overhauling involved the up-gradation of the system transforming it into user-friendly, robust and secure interface compatible with all devices including mobiles and tablets, the statement added.
The interior minister speaking on the occasion said the online application was not only promoting tourism in Pakistan but also served as a catalyst in positive image building of the country. He said that the ease of access to Pakistan generated through POVS had improved foreign direct investment (FDI) and “stirred up socio-economic activity” in the country. So far, over six hundred thousand applications have been received from 180 countries through online visa system, he added.
Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik while speaking on the launch said that the recent upgrades in Pakistan Online Visa System would result in the reducing the application filing time by 50 percent. He said international travel has witnessed a major spike and visa approval rate has reached to 94 percent. “My mission is to look at our services from the citizens’ prism and make public services available for all.”
According to NADRA, new categories added to the system include medical tourism, CPEC visa, pilgrim visa, and mountaineering & trekking visa. Business visa policy has also been revamped through which visa acquisition is now possible within 24 hours, the statement also said.