Covering election: no restrictions imposed on TV channels, says Memon -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Covering election: no restrictions imposed on TV channels, says Memon

ISLAMABAD (February 18 2008): Caretaker information minister Nisar A Memon on Sunday said that government was ready to facilitate detained former Chief Justice and Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (deposed) and other judges and lawyers to cast vote if they wanted to exercise their right of franchise.

“The government is ready to arrange every thing to take the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan if he wants to cast vote in Quetta, his hometown where he is registered as a voter”, said the minister at a press conference here.

He denied that Pemra had imposed undue restrictions on private channels in covering elections. He said that being a regulatory authority it has just asked private TV channels to abide by the code of conduct. The channels were asked not to announce any results before verification by the concerned presiding officer. The presiding officer will give the results to the political agent and the media.

He urged media to play a responsible role during polls and refrain from paying heed to rumours. The minister also urged the foreign observers and the foreign media to stick to code of conduct.

He said that the government would not allow any agitation after the elections. Any agitation will be crushed, he added. He said that interim government was going to fulfill its responsibility by conducting free, fair, transparent and peaceful polls Monday (today). All necessary arrangements have been made in a foolproof manner. “Today, all the apprehensions regarding the elections holding have subsided,” he added. The promise of holding by the government has been fulfilled, Memon added.

Memon said that foreign election observers and correspondents were free to monitor polls. The government has no objection if Indian election observers wanted to monitor polls. He said that the Government had issued over 3000 visas to foreign observers to examine the electoral process. There is not even a one percent chance of rigging the vote under tight noose of foreign observers, he added.

He said that the federal government had issued instructions to the provincial government to make arrangements for enabling the detained lawyers to cast their vote. Constitution of Pakistan guarantees everyone’s right to cast his or her vote, therefore, the government will take stern action against those particularly in NWFP who would deprive women of their right”, the minister noted . However, at the same time he clarified that that non-participation of women voters in NWFP and tribal areas was a more social issue than the political one.

To a question regarding the alleged audio tape in which Attorney General (AG) was quoted as saying that next elections will be “heavily rigged” the minister said that AG had himself clarified his position. He further said that AG had no business in holding the elections. It is the responsibility of the Election Commission.

The AG is also not part of the interim government, he added. The minister warned that the government would take stern action against anybody who created law and order situation during the polls. Such elements would face the music, he added.

Source: Business Recorder