Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Tuesday hinted at a ‘breakthrough’ in the government-opposition negotiations on electoral reforms. The federal cabinet was informed that the two sides have reached an understanding on several points and there is a likelihood of further positive development, he said, while briefing media persons after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The minister said the cabinet was given a detailed briefing on electronic voting machines (EVMs), internet voting and biometric verification of voters. The objective behind the introduction of EVMs is to bring transparency in the electoral system, he added. Fawad said the cabinet approved the interior ministry’s recommendation for continuing the ban on Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP). He said the law ministry will approach the Election Commission of Pakistan to get the election symbol of TLP cancelled as per law. Fawad said the cabinet was informed that due to the efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan, 85 more prisoners jailed in Saudi Arabia were being released and a special plane would be sent to bring them back. Hundreds of prisoners have already been set free by the Saudi government as per the promise of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman made during his visit to Pakistan, he added. Efforts were being made for release of Pakistanis imprisoned in different countries, who were not involved in serious crimes, he added. As regards the reduction in security detail, he said the opposition politicians and former bureaucrats seemed to have been enjoying more security than the cabinet members. The standard operating procedures and rules regarding provision of official security and protocol to private individuals are being revisited, he added. The prime minister, he said, told the cabinet meeting that record 500 million trees would be planted in the areas under federal and provincial governments of the PTI during the ongoing monsoon season. He said the cabinet was briefed on the encroachments in E 8 and E 9 sectors of Islamabad. All the institutions, including the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Navy were directed to remove boundary walls built on the green belt around the above sectors. He said it was a clear message for all that no encroachments would be tolerated anywhere in the federal capital. The Capital Development Authority chairman was directed to take all steps required to make Islamabad an encroachment-free city. Imran Khan, he said, also directed that the culture of VVIP clubs, where the entry of common man was banned, should be ended and all resources should be used for the welfare of general public. Fawad said the cabinet approved 15 percent special allowance for the personnel of Armed Forces of Pakistan as they had opted not to take any pay raise during the past two years due to economic crunch. The prime minister observed that Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Constabulary should also be given 15 percent allowance and directed the authorities concerned to take steps in this regard, the minister said. Fawad said on the request of Opposition Leader Sindh Assembly Halim Adil Sheikh, the cabinet issued directives for inclusion of independent persons in the joint investigation team to ensure transparency in the investigations into the cases instituted against him. The cabinet, he said, also discussed a report of Ministry of SAFRON regarding Afghan refugees in the country. Pakistan is already hosting over 3 million Afghan refugees and is expecting more Aghan nationals if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates, he added. Responding to the media persons’ questions, the minister said the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Law and Justice would jointly devise a strategy to get the election symbol allotted to TLP cancelled by the ECP. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan would address elections rallies in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he said, has already left for the United States out of his frustration that his party has no chance of winning the elections. Some eight or nine candidates are contesting the AJK elections on the PPP ticket, he said, adding that same is the case with Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz, who herself had said that she was on a leisure trip to the AJK.