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Seminar hosted by PID was the example of freedom of speech

Seminar on ‘General Elections 2024, Challenges for the new government and the Roadmap’

TFD Report

KARACHI: Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi on Thursday said that the caretaker government was fully prepared and committed to conduct general elections on February 8. He was addressing a seminar on “Challenges and Roadmap for the New Government”, organized by the Press Information Department.
The minister said that as the government’s spokesperson, he had been reiterating the caretaker government’s commitment for holding elections as per the schedule given by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
“The election process should continue in any case and major issues facing the country, including economy, foreign policy, local governments, governance and civil service reforms, should also be discussed to find their solution,” he remarked.
Solangi said that despite many flaws in the democratic system and electoral process, everyone was in agreement that the electoral process should not be stopped and elections should be held.
He said that since the formation of the caretaker cabinet on August 17, 2023, the government had been consistently reiterating its commitment that the elections would definitely be held and also on the scheduled date of February 8.
The minister said that speakers in the seminar had highlighted the historical background of elections in Pakistan thoroughly. Such speeches should end the impression of restriction on the freedom of expression.
He said that some elements had been spreading rumours about delaying the elections on the pretext of security and weather issues.
He recalled that there were security issues in 2008 and 2013 but the elections were held. Likewise, the 1970 elections, the first elections under the adult franchise system, were held in harsh weather in December.
Today the security and weather problems were real, but elections in the past were held despite such issues, he added.
He reiterated that the 2008 and 2013 elections had security issues, while the first adult franchise polls were held on December 7, 1970 in bitterly cold weather.
The minister said that the country was facing multiple challenges and problems today.
He said that there was urgent need for tax reforms to stabilize the economy. Apart from that, the system of local governments was mandatory under the Constitution, but unfortunately it had been fully paralyzed.
He said that after the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the resources were transferred to the provinces, which unfortunately could not be further transferred to the lower level.
Solangi said that there had been problems of a level playing field. The poor and middle classes never got a level playing field.
Certain political parties were crying about the level playing field but they should first bring democracy in their ranks.
“Real democracy will flourish when the persons from middle, lower middle and working classes can contest elections and get elected.”
He reaffirmed that economy, foreign policy, local governments, governance and civil service reforms were the real and fundamental problems of the country. “We should discuss these issues and there should be a national consensus on how to cope with the challenges after the election,” he maintained.
He said that there should not be politics on the country’s future.
Meanwhile, other speakers at a seminar at the seminar said that the biggest challenge for the next government is to prove its credibility, and legitimacy as an elected government.
There is a huge gap between the masses and the State of Pakistan. Another major challenge for the next government will be to restore the lost public trust in the state and its organs.
Presenting an overview of elections in Pakistan Senior journalist Mehmood Sham said the 2024 Elections, like previous polls in the country, will not be transparent, but decisive. He said. Social media has emerged as the center of power in the contemporary world, and nothing can be kept hidden from masses.
Elections campaigns have remained limited this time, and manifestos are based on empty slogans, depicting lack of vision, incompleteness of manifesto and practicality.
In the Democratic world, he said elections are meant to be a smooth transition of power, but in Pakistan they are means of power sharing.
He said the incumbent interim government has a tough challenge to ensure free fair and transparent elections under the present circumstances.
Senior Journalist and Anchor Mazhar Abbas said that in Pakistan Political Engineering and selection is done under the garb of election in Pakistan for the last many decades.
Decisions are being taken in haste. Social and digital media have become so vibrant that nothing can be hidden from general people.
Mazhar considers Election itself could be a major challenge. It will be a difficult task for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to maintain its credibility as an election watchdog. It has no strong independent machinery because employees are politicised and compromised.
Judiciary is a challenge. Slogans in manifestos are not practical. Why believe the lay man as it would be foolish. Real political answers u will find from Pan shop and auto drivers. To what extent it maintains its credibility and how people will accept them as a selected govt in the face of deep rooted economic issues.
The next PM will make empty promises, they blame previous govt for issues, these are the challenges the next govt will meet; because we don’t speak the truth to the public.
Global challenge, misinformation or disinformation but people may not be able to distinguish them. No political party has any solution to tackle this issue.
The seminar was hosted by the Press Information Department Karachi, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
PIO Tariq Mehmood in his introductory remarks said that the seminar is primarily aimed at drawing media attention towards real issues during the election. Multiple issues will be discussed regarding elections.
Amir Zia said public perception, as one the mainstream party, was thrown out of the election race. Credibility and manifestos are the real challenges. Elaborate slogans make them practical. Capacity payment is 21 trillion.
Our Democratic system has flows, the election process has flows, despite that, elections should continue to take place.
Yes there are security issues, harsh weather, 2008, 13, we had security issues.
Pakistan is facing economic issues, terrorism return, tax evasion, tax reforms, local governments, and the government has paralyzed local govt. Authority is not transferred to grass root level from provincial govt.
Middle class, working if not you are to elect the ruling elite. Level playing field they should ensure within the system.
National consensus is needed. Media graduation is needed. Economy, big ticket items we should talk about challenge.
Senior Analyst Huma Baqai said that the poverty and ignorant nation cannot elect the right peoples. Non-political parties expressed education in its manifestation. Free power they can’t. Stop insulting our intellect. Custodian of democracy saying how they are tolerating all these issues even the Women are being tortured by the state.
Head of Mass Communication Federal Urdu University Dr Tauseef Ahmed said, only political parties can bring about change but no other institution.
President Karachi Press Club Saeed Sarbazi said that the Govt will face challenges. There is dire need to work with opposition. A 5-year road map is necessary. Not retaliation. Missing persons issue to bring limelight. Sustainable economic policies, micro loans, climate change, religious extremism, corruption ends etc.
The Caretaker Federal Minister of Information gave the confirmation that elections will be held on the given date.
Director CEJ, Amber Shamsi, Senior Journalist Sohail Sangi also addressed this occasion and discussed the vulnerable issues of Society.
At the conclusion, Director General of the Press Information Department (PID), Erum Tanveer, delivered closing remarks and presented commemorative mementos to the Caretaker Minister for Information and Principal Information Officer (PIO).
Additionally, Caretaker Minister for Information along with Erum Tanveer, D-G PID Karachi, extended mementos to the seminar speakers.
The seminar stood as a noteworthy and commendable initiative by the Caretaker Government through PID, emphasizing the freedom of speech.
Esteemed senior journalists and scholars expressed their thoughts openly, reflecting the current state of press freedom in this era.

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