Caretaker Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi has said it was not the mandate and responsibility of the caretaker government to give the date for general election in the country.

Talking to digital media platform on Sunday, the minister said the Election Commission of Pakistan was an autonomous constitutional institution and since the day he took oath as a minister, he was in constant contact with the ECP.

The minister said he had full faith and confidence in the capability and leadership of the ECP, and elections would be held on the date announced by the ECP.

To a question, he said that Pakistan Peoples Party was one of the major political parties of the country. “We are going through the phase of election and during the environment of election, any party and its leadership has the freedom to give its stance on any important issue,” he maintained.

Murtaza Solangi said the media in Pakistan enjoyed freedom and the courts were also free, adding all registered political parties had equal opportunities. The ECP and caretaker government would ensure equal opportunities for all political parties in the upcoming elections, he added.

The minister stated that there was no ban on the PTI as a political party.

Replying to a question, he said the process of privatisation was not initiated by the caretaker government as the previous parliament and its elected government decided to privatise various entities. “We are bound to implement the decisions of the previous parliament and previous government,” Murtaza Solangi opined.

The minister stressed the need for reformation in the institutions. Answering a question, he said that public broadcasters were considered essential services. As they were institutions of compulsory national service, they were supported by the state worldwide.

He said he was against the privatisation of public broadcasters as a matter of principle and being ideologically wrong. However, the minister said that public broadcasters should not have such people who do not belong to today’s modern broadcasting mechanisms. When asked about fundamental changes in national broadcasters, he said making such decisions was not included in the mandate of the caretaker government.

Answering a question about the deadline given for deportation of illegal immigrants living in Pakistan, he said those who lecture Pakistan on human rights should check their own record.

The minister said no other country in the world had hosted as many refugees during the past over four decades as Pakistan had done. “Countries cannot survive with soft borders with anybody entering in its territory without documentation, living freely on fake passports and identity cards,” he said.

The minister said the people residing illegally in the country should voluntarily leave the country by October 31. After October 31, such illegal foreigners would be forcibly evicted from the country. “Our aim is to defend our state and our citizens. Our primary responsibility is to defend our citizens and secure our national borders,” he remarked. The minister said Pakistan only wanted deportation of illegal immigrants from its soil and the country would no longer allow anyone crossing the border and living here without fulfilling legal requirements.

He said that Nawaz Sharif’s return had nothing to do with the caretaker government.

The minister acknowledged that Nawaz Sharif was the leader of one of Pakistan’s largest political parties and he did not flee the country illegally. He said that on return of Nawaz Sharif, law would take its course and the Constitution of Pakistan will be abided by.

To a question about who would run the PTI election campaign, he said it was internal matter of that party. The minister said that history was witness that political parties conducted their election campaigns even in difficult circumstances and there was no restriction on the PTI in that regard.

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