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Tuesday Jan 16 2018

Pakistan needs timely elections, says PM Abbasi


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the country and the democracy need timely conduct of general elections.

Speaking on Geo News’ programme ‘Jirgah’, the prime minister said that his office requires taking difficult decisions and there are huge responsibilities.

“It’s been some 30 years in PML-N and Nawaz Sharif has been my leader since the day one,” he said.

Abbasi, however, said that he is the premier and all powers rest with him. “Decisions are made by the cabinet; Nawaz hands over powers and seeks results."

He said the next elections will be held on time, adding that the country and democracy need timely elections.

The prime minister further said there is no threat to Senate elections and they too would be held on their due time. "All political parties want the democratic process to continue."

He said that he does not believe in conspiracies, however, added that unfortunately conspiracies have been hatched against democracy in the state.

"If my party asks me to dissolve the assembly, I will. But won't do so under pressure by someone," Abbasi said.

Pak-US relations

Speaking about Pakistan-US relations, the prime minister said the dialogue process between the two nations is ongoing at every level. "A US delegation visited Pakistan, while a delegation from here also visited the United States."

He said that a dialogue with the US military is still ongoing, despite Trump statement.

"We are a sovereign state and do not want any act to occur that could deteriorate the regional situation," Abbasi said, adding, "We are bound to safeguard our borders."

He said that if a drone strike takes place then they would take action against it, adding, "When your sovereignty is threatened then you get ready to fight a war with the entire world."

Afghan issue

The prime minister said that his government conveyed to the United States that Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan most of all, and that it has taken every measure for this.

"War will not resolve Afghanistan's issues," he said, noting that re-settling 3 million Afghan nationals is also very important.

Abbasi said that around 60-70 thousand people come and go using the Pak-Afghan border on daily basis. "China also made a tripartite group for resolution of Afghan issue. We have always wanted peace in Afghanistan and there is no two ways about it."

"We want Afghanistan to resolve its issues; no outsider would come to solve their problems," he said, adding, "We can only play the role of a facilitator for resolution of Afghan issue."

Talks with India

Speaking with regard to India, the Pakistan premier said he does not think that there is a threat of war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, adding, "We always said that the door for talks with India is open."

In response to Indian propaganda against China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said New Delhi has been waging a propaganda against the multi-billion dollar project from the very beginning. "Gwadar is a commercial port and it is being used for commercial purposes."

Responding to a question about Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, he said there is no case registered against Saeed in Pakistan. "Action is taken when there is a case registered [against someone]."

Govt performance

Commenting on his government's performance, Abbasi said that no former governments ever delivered as much the incumbent government has delivered so far.

"We paved a way for stability and progress, despite challenges and difficulties," he said.

Questioned about July 28, 2017, verdict of the Supreme Court, the premier said he never commented on court decisions, however, added that there is no example of it.

"You will see whether the history and people accept the July 28 verdict," he said, noting that the "decision was implemented before its ink dried."

FATA merger 

Asked about FATA's merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Abbasi said isn't possible to make the decision in a day.

"The most important thing for FATA is people development and there is a requirement of funds to improve the standards of living there."

He urged provinces to finalise affairs pertaining to funds for FATA in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting.

About Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the premier said the government has suffered losses worth billions due to poor state of the national flag carrier, questioning, "How long we will continue to face losses?"

"It is better to privatise the state-owned enterprise instead of wasting more money," he observed, adding that if a province wishes to buy the airlines then it should.