‘Any party can hold rally’

LAHORE: Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid has said that there is no threat to democracy in the country, and that any party can hold a rally, as people must be given a right to freedom of expression in a democratic society.
“To protest or hold rally is a democratic right of every political party, but this right should be employed for the promotion of democracy rather than maligning democracy,” the minister said while addressing the oath-taking ceremony of the newly elected office-bearers of the Lahore Education Reporters Association (LERA) at the Punjab University on Saturday. “Freedom is incomplete without the right to differ, and the societies become static without it,” he said.
The minister said the budget for education was an investment into the future, which benefited the coming generations. Had the past generations invested in the education sector, today’s Pakistan would have been far better, he said. He said that investing in the education sector and setting up universities were not solutions if people were not given freedom of expression.
The minister said it was a responsibility of the democratic governments to protect the difference of opinion and dissent, which were the basis of democracy. He said that only those societies reached the pinnacle of glory and progress in the world that had promoted difference of opinion and respected each other’s views.
Pervaiz Rashid said that institutions of ignorance were set up in the name of education in the past. “Had these so-called institutions imparted education, the country would not have to beg for financial aid from the donors, and our children did not have to wear suicide jackets and lead a life of hatred.”
He called upon the education reporters to point out the mistakes of the PML-N government in the education sector, as mirror shown by journalists helps governments rectify their shortcomings.
Earlier, the minister administered oath to the newly elected office-bearers of the LERA.
Later, responding to the media questions, the information minister said the government had not stopped transporters from providing services to the PTI supporters for the May 11 rally. He said that the opposition had been levelling baseless allegation in order to add colour to their event. He said that the PTI’s allegations were baseless, and added that the PTI was in power in KP, and there cannot be any bar on the transporters.
To a question, he said 25,000MW projects would be completed during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s present tenure, which would provide an antidote to many problems, while some people were wary of this good change. He said that the elements brought up in the shadow of dictatorship had always held someone’s crutches or served as their crutches.
To a query, the minister said that Pakistan was the master of its own fate, and “does not take dictations from others”. 
Regarding the dialogue process with the Taliban, he said that all political parties and the national security institutions were on one page on the issue of dialogue with the Taliban. He said the government wanted to find a peaceful solution to the issue, but violence would be dealt with accordingly.
Regarding the letter by PEMRA, the minister said that the authority was a constitutional entity and there was no harm if an institution wanted a legal opinion on a certain issue. He said that it was practised in all major countries of the world, where institutions seek advice from courts or legal experts. “We have been looking up to the law for the resolution of issues, and we should abide by the law,” he added.

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