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Wednesday, June 19, 2024  
12 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Dawar says census results ‘maneuvered’ to keep Assembly unchanged

Adds that changes to Official Secrets Act have legalised abduction
File photo.
File photo.

National Democratic Movement leader Mohsin Dawar has termed amendments to the Official Secrets Act as a legal cover to forceful abductions in the country. He also said that ‘someone else’ had been put in the driving seat over the matter of elections.

Speaking in Spotlight with Munizae Jahangir on Monday, Dawar said he did not vote in favour of the Official Secrets Act amendment bill.

Dawar said that he was out of the country when he first heard that the bill had been tabled. He added that when he reached the assembly on Monday, he was told that the bill was being presented again after being passed from the Senate with some amendments.

He also said that he had a lot to say regarding the bill but he was not allowed to make a speech in the Assembly despite a long wait.

Dawar said that the contents of the bill are so vague and its scope so vast that the security agencies can act against any man on the street.

“Abduction has been given legal protection,” Dawar said.

The real tragedy is that political parties in the country have not learnt their lessons from the past, he added.

Dawar said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had also tried to push through a similar bill during their tenure which imposed jail terms on anyone criticising the armed forces as a private member bill. He said that he had told PTI at the time that the bill would be used against them later.

Further alluding to politicians not learning from past mistakes, Dawar gave the examples of amendments to article 62/63 in the 18th amendment and the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act that had come back to haunt the PMLN later.

Census results ‘maneuvered’

When asked about the approval of the Census 2023 results that will probably lead to a delay in election results, Dawar said that it would be polite to say that they had been ‘misled’.

However, he added in blunt terms, what had happened amounted to ‘continuous lies’.

Dawar said that he had been part of meeting involving heads of all parties on the census chaired by Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal. He added that the meeting, which had also included officials from the Paksitan Bureau of Statistics, had said there had been a huge increase in the population of Balochistan.

He said that the meeting had been told that the Internally Displaced Person would be counted in their districts but it was never done and the final count excludes them.

Dawar said that the census has been ‘maneuvered’ in a way to keep the proportion of seats the same as it is right now.

He further added that the whole thing had been done so that a consitutional amendment would not be needed to adjust seats in the national assembly.

Dawar also said that there was a huge problem with caretaker chief ministers representing their provinces when they had no stake in governance due to being no-elected.

He also said that a pandora’s box had been opened by announcng census results at the last minute when the debate had been going on for a year.

When asked if this would lead to a delay in elections, Dawar said ‘someone else’ has been put into the driving seat and they could take the country wherever they needed.

He also said that not having a government backed by the publich during a difficult time of the country could lead a ‘dangerous situation’.

Elections will not be delayed beyond 35-40 days

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said that speculation that elections could be delayed well into next year were ‘political statements’.

He added that while it was upto the ECP to hold elections, it was probable that a delay of 35-40 days could happen as the constitution said that new delimitations would have to be done after a new census is notified. However, he added that he hoped that the delay would not be longer than that.

Tarar said that the parts about the arrest without warrants by intelligence agencies on Official Secrets Act had been removed, and a clean bill had been approved by the parliament.

Imran disqualified

Dawar added that he did not know much about the Toshakhana case but it seemed unfair to disqualify a former prime minister over a watch.

He added that a similar wrong had been done to Nawaz Sharif by disqualifying him but polls had still needed to be rigged to keep him out.

However, he added that Imran also shared some of the blame as he had closed all doors of dialogue.

Asked about his vote against Imran Khan in the no-confidence vote that eventually ousted him, Dawar said he was disappointed and had not imagined that democracy’s space would be surrendered to such a degree.

He said that in the case of Imran, the complaint could be made that he was new to politics and governance and was learning or perhaps had been imposed on an ‘agenda’.

However, he said that he still thought that voting against Imran Khan was the right decision at the time.

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Mohsin Dawar