Govt Bans Private Moon Sighting: Fawad Chaudhry

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said Tuesday the government had decided to ban private moon sightings, and only official or Ruet-e-Hilal Committee’s announcements would be considered.

Addressing a post-cabinet press conference in Islamabad, he said the decision was taken after new legislation on moon sightings was formulated.

“Only announcements from the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee or the government will be considered final and binding.”

Besides the federal government, provincial and district committees for moon sighting will also be formed, the information minister said, noting that officials from SUPARCO, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Ministry of Religious Affairs, and Ministry of Science and Technology have also been included in the Ruet-e-Hilal Committee.

Govt welcomes discussion with Opposition on electoral reforms

The information minister said the PTI-led government also welcomed the Opposition’s readiness to discuss electoral reforms with the Centre, days after a committee from both houses was formed to address the matter.

He said the committee should move in the right direction to resolve the matter and not waste time.

The information minister said the electronic voting machine (EVM) and i-voting were a crucial part of the reforms. “If we exclude overseas Pakistanis from the voting process […] it will be an injustice with them.”

Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan, during the cabinet meeting, directed Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan, Advisor to PM on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan, and others who oversee parliamentary matters that these two elements — EVMs and i-voting — be discussed as a necessity with the Opposition.

The information minister said a majority of the conflicts arise as the vote count comes in and that the government had shared a study of the Philippines with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), where 300 officials had died during conflicts when the final count came in. “This happened when the Philippines did not use EVMs.”

The federal minister said the government had imported 20 machines and hoped that they could be used in upcoming elections.

“No sitting government in Pakistan has ever focused on electoral reforms, it is the PTI-led government that aims to introduce them,” the minister said, highlighting that the incumbent regime had also run campaigns in this regard.

The federal minister said the government would bring its agenda to a joint session of the parliament and stressed once more that the government is willing to talk to the Opposition on electoral reforms.

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