Fawad Chaudhry asks PML-N if ‘buying votes for Rs2,000’ equals respecting votes

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Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry in reaction to a viral video of voters being allegedly bribed ahead of Lahore’s NA-133 by-election, has asked whether “buying votes for Rs2,000” is how respect is accorded to the vote.

His remarks, during a rally in Pind Dadan Khan, Jhelum, were in reference to the PML-N mantra “vote ko izzat do“, meaning “respect the vote”.

The war for votes between PML-N and PPP in Lahore’s NA-133, where a by-election is due on December 5, has gone beyond the constituency to social media, where a viral video appeared to show voters being bribed by party members.

Both parties have blamed each other’s workers for the alleged move.

“Is buying votes for Rs2,000 respecting the vote?” Chaudhry asked.

He accused PML-N of contesting the elections with the lure of money.

“PML-N won the 1990 general election of 1990 through rigging”, the minister added.

He said that the PTI is currently focusing its energies on the local government elections.

“We are not worried about the next general elections. Currently [our] focus is on the local government elections,” Chaudhry said.

He said that the PTI will complete the current tenure and claim victory in the next general election as well.

The information minister went on to say that PML-N and PPP “become the most panicky” whenever there’s talk of introducing electronic voting machines.

While referring to the ongoing controversy regarding the recently leaked audio clip allegedly featuring former chief justice Saqib Nisar, Chaudhry said that “whenever a case against PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif or PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz is scheduled for hearing, something is leaked”.

“PML-N should start making films instead of [participating in] politics,” the minister said, in further criticism.

Chaudhry said that the state’s institutions cannot be blackmailed and that “PML-N doesn’t have any choice except for providing receipts or going to jail”.

Speaking about PPP, the minister said that the party “doesn’t have votes anywhere else except for interior Sindh”.

“PPP is no more the party Benazir Bhutto formed. It is the party of Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari,” he added.

‘Incompetent govt doesn’t have any roots’

Meanwhile, Sindh government spokesperson Barrister Murtaza Wahab reacted to Chaudhry’s statement about PPP, saying that Sindh’s ruling party is a “people’s party and its popularity can be gauged by the by-election [results]”.

“The world knows on whose crutches PTI stands,” said Wahab, adding that the “incompetent” government doesn’t have any roots.

He asked how long the “selected government” will keep “smearing its opponents with the mud of its own incompetence”.

“At the moment, the government has failed miserably in every field,” Wahab said.

PTI spokespersons should accept that their departure has become certain, he added.

Wahab went on to say that the people are affected by the “worst form of inflation” due to the government’s “incompetence”.

“The day is not far when this incompetent rule will be toppled,” he added.

“True democracy will rule the country with the PPP coming into power,” he said.

Alleged audio of Saqib Nisar ‘quite irrelevant’, says Fawad Chaudhry

Federal Minister for Broadcasting and Information Fawad Chaudhry has said that the alleged audio of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar is irrelevant in the Nawaz Sharif case, as it was heard by 16 judges and the former CJP was not one of them.

The federal minister said Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz should present the audio before the court hearing her case.

“If Maryam Nawaz believes she could elicit help from the audio, she should present it before the bench hearing her case,” said Fawad Chaudhry on Geo News programme Naya Pakistan on Saturday.

It is the job of the judge who is hearing Maryam Nawaz’s case to analyse the audio, in case she takes it to court, said the federal minister.

He also called into question the relevance of the audio. “The audio stands irrelevant as the Panama Papers case was heard by three CJPs, and nearly 16 judges and a trial court,” Chaudhry noted.

Given that so many judges heard the case over stages, the surfacing of audio is thoroughly meaningless, he asserted.

“Whatever Maryam Nawaz and Safdar Awan say in this regard is irrelevant. The nation wants to know from where you [Sharif family] got the money for billions of rupees worth of constructions that you are currently living in,” he continued. “You may answer this question today, tomorrow or afterwards. But if you fail to provide the details, the NAB court will penalise you for corruption under the NAB ordinance.”

The irony, Chaudhry said, is that Nawaz Sharif lives in the apartments, appears from them and gives interviews, but the entire nation wonders if the apartments belong to him or not.

Commenting on the recent audio leak, the federal minister advised Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar to begin an audio/video business as both of them have attained “mastery in filmmaking and editing” and are “not capable enough to do politics”.

Replying to a question about why the government avoided launching a probe over the audio, Chaudhry said it is not an executive-specific matter as the issue is pending before a two-judge bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). It is up to the IHC to decide the matter and the government will implement the order as per judicial directives, he added.

Chaudhry asked why such audios and videos are leaked when a vital case starts. The primary reason for such releases is that they do not want the merit-based verdicts so they get the attention diverted towards leaks, he said, adding that such leaks are let out under a well-planned conspiracy.

He reiterated that if Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif consider the audio worthwhile, they should bring it before a judge for evaluation.

Elaborating on the audio being irrelevant, Chaudhry said the former CJP did not deliver the Panama case verdict. Instead, he said, it was a trial court that heard it and passed the verdict. “Moreover, he [the ex-CJP] had nothing to do with the Panama JIT,” he added.

Even if the audio is right, its assessment is up to the bench that is hearing her case, he repeated. 

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