ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that assemblies would not be dissolved even minutes before its mandated term. He once again reaffirmed that elections would be held on time.

Talking to journalists at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, the premier said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government would stay in office till July 1 and elections would be held as per the schedule.

Referring to the ISPR director general’s press conference, the prime minister said that it was not the responsibility of armed forces to give any sort of guarantee about timely holding of elections, which in the later part of his (DG ISPR) statement he himself accepted that holding of elections was not in the purview of the armed forces but whatever task would be assigned to the institution under the constitution it would be complied with.

PM Abbasi once again spoke about the public scrutiny of credentials to appoint judges because a judge has to take vital decisions in cases of vital importance with far-reaching implications.

To a question about the independence of judiciary and media, he satirically said that the media and the judiciary were not free adding that the judiciary had sent packing an elected prime minister while the media was free to criticise people for hours on channels “so what sort of independence they need”.

The premier said that the PML-N government was the only government that did not face any charge of corruption in its five-year tenure. “The government is functioning with full transparency and there is no stain on its credibility.”

He said that the PML-N always took the challenges head-on, adding that if anyone had courage, they had the option to bring a no-confidence motion against the prime minister or he himself had the powers to dissolve the National Assembly.

PM Abbasi said that the PML-N had numerous milestones to its credit including overcoming electricity and gas crises and expansion of country-wide road network.

“We will get back to people in 2018 general election with a proof of these achievements,” he said and regretted that in the past, Gen Pervez Musharraf and Asif Zardari, during their tenures, neglected the key development sectors of the country.

When his attention was drawn towards the indifference of his government towards the agriculture sector, he said though agriculture was a provincial subject under the 18th Amendment, the federal government still extended immense support on related issues.

He said that provinces at the moment were enjoying their authority with little focus on their responsibilities and called for realizing and implementing the real spirit of 18th Amendment.

He mentioned that the PML-N had carried out utmost development work in South Punjab as compared to previous governments.   

To a question whether the appearance of Nawaz Sharif before a commission or the sacking of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was justified, Abbasi said approaching the court was the right of every person and it was up to the court to decide the case whatever it deemed correct.   

The prime minister said it was a worldwide and open debate to discuss the perks and privileges of judges and stressed the need for a similar debate in Pakistan as well.

When asked to comment on “Abbasi as a prime minister giving much time and attention to office as compared to his predecessor Sharif”, he said it was not the duration of time that mattered but it was the quality of work that Sharif did. “Nawaz Sharif as prime minister has really delivered, and I am no comparison to his commitment, dedication and service to the nation,” Abbasi said.

To a question, the prime minister expressed concern over the increasing incidents of firing from across the Line of Control by Indian army and the heavy death toll of innocent civilians in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

When asked about the ties with the United States and its repeated mantra of “do more”, the premier said that Pakistan was clear in its policies with the US. He said that Pakistan– US ties spanned decades and covered all aspects of their relationships. He said the two countries were engaged at different levels and regularly interacting.

He said that Pakistan was conducting operations against terrorists within its territory purely for its own objectives and to bring peace. He said Pakistan had already paid a heavy price against terrorism and would continue it till the clearing of the last remnants of terrorists.

About news reports of Taliban’s desire to interact with the US government, he said “if they (Taliban) wish to talk to the US, they can. We have nothing to do with it.”

“We believe war is no option in Afghanistan. Pakistan is host to 3 million Afghan refugees and if the international community, instead of spending billions on the war, spends a few billion on their repatriation, the situation could improve significantly.”

When asked about the proposed privatization of PIA, he said the airline was incurring losses of around Rs120 million a day, and said, “I firmly believe that the government sector cannot do business and the only solution was to privatize it.”

He said now it was up to the employees, the pilots, or anyone else to buy it. He said the airline had liabilities of US450 million dollars and was making losses and argued that the same amount of money could be used elsewhere.

Regarding the new Islamabad International Airport, the premier hinted that the management of a modern airport required special handling and believed that the Civil Aviation Authority was not in a position to run it efficiently.

Defending his government’s economic performance, the prime minister said inflation has dropped from 13 percent to 5 percent, growth had risen from 3 percent to 6 percent, while fiscal deficit had dropped from 8.5 percent to 5 percent. Regarding the declining exports, he attributed it to some ambiguity in the export policy and said Pakistan had the potential to raise it to 40 to 50 billion dollars and assured that the government was working on it.

To a question about progress on Gwadar port, the premier said despite claims the previous governments did not do “a penny’s worth of work” at the deep sea port.

He said the PML-N has the credit of making it operational by installing new cranes, setting up of industrial zones where work on five units was in progress.

 

 

It’s not military’s duty to guarantee on-time elections: PM