Saturday Oct 22, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Saturday ruled out the possibility of snap polls this year, reiterating it as the government's prerogative as backed by the ruling coalition parties.
In a press conference, the prime minister said that the general elections are 11 months away and will take place according to the constitution and law.
Commenting on the ongoing political climate in the country, the premier said: "There is nothing to be worried about, democracy is not in danger. The government will continue to work according to the Constitution and law."
His comments came after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified PTI Chairman Imran Khan under Article 63(1)(p), which resulted in protests across the country.
However, the PTI chief asked his party workers to end the protests and later announced that he will disclose the date for his "Haqeeqi Azadi March" next week — raising concerns about political instability.
The prime minister also congratulated the nation as Pakistan was — after a wait of four years — pulled out from the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) grey list through "joint efforts".
He added that Friday was a "lucky day", as the country received "great successes".
On October 21, FATF — the world's money laundering and terror-financing watchdog — removed Pakistan from its grey list, with the country no longer subject to its increased monitoring process.
"All the institutions and authorities have worked together to ensure Pakistan’s removal from the grey list. [The country] has now gotten rid of economic the challenges, which it faced following its grey list status."
"Our [coalition government’s] team has worked on [addressing] FATF’s pointers in an excellent way," the premier said, lauding the efforts of Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and state minister Hina Rabbani Khar in the process.
Highlighting the country's unity on the grey list matter, PM Shehbaz appreciated cooperation from leaders of all the coalition parties and said everyone actively participated to legislate in the parliament to resolve this national issue.
"Despite reluctance, Imran Khan participated in this crucial legislation," he said, adding that despite criticism, "we participated in legislation related to FATF in the national interest".
“Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s role was immensely crucial. COAS and his team played an important role in this massive success,” the premier said.
"Apart from FATF, another decision was announced," PM Shehbaz said, hinting at the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) verdict disqualifying PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference.
The premier said that Khan has been calling others thieves for several years, but now, after the verdict, he has been proven a "certified liar"
"Imran Khan has been proven to be a certified liar. He has been disqualified due to corruption," PM Shehbaz said, advising the PTI chairman that ongoing issues cannot be resolved through jalsas and rallies.
"Imran Khan was made the prime minister through rigging. His conversation about the judiciary is in front of everyone," the premier remarked.
"Imran Khan should fear God; this should be a lesson for him to [remember]," PM Shehbaz said, adding that the PTI chief has ruined the country’s dignity by selling gifts from the Toshakhana.
"Had Imran Khan sold the gifts and added its money to the country’s treasury, the nation would have lauded him. Someone who kept boasting about austerity sold off a watch gifted to him," PM Shehbaz remarked.
The prime minister stressed that gifts given to the heads of the state belong to the country and the nation.
He added that Khan has tried hard to instil political instability and asked how will the nation support him now that he is a "certified thief".
"When Imran Khan gauged that the situation could worsen, he retreated from the call of riots," PM Shehbaz said, commenting on Khan's call asking his supporters to "stop protesting" after the ECP's verdict.
Sharing his view about Khan's comments on the ECP's Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, the premier said it was the PTI chairman who suggested the chief election commissioner’s name for the position.
Lashing out at the PTI chairman, PM Shehbaz called Khan “a statue of lies and dishonesty.” He accused him of instigating political anarchy in the country.
The prime minister urged the masses to turn a deaf ear to the "certified thief".
To a question about higher electricity rates, the prime minister held the former PTI government responsible for the current power tariff. “Why did Khan not buy cheap gas in his tenure? questioned the prime minister.
Referring to the tough decisions taken by the coalition government, he said: “We put our politics at risk to save Pakistan.” He boosted that the Pakistani rupee was on an upward trajectory since the return of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Responding to a question about the long march, the premier said: “If a certified thief’s supporters will still take to the streets for him. If his followers do so, then the law will take its course.”
The premier said that "no certified thief" would be allowed to enter Islamabad.
In response to another journalist's question about joining hands with PPP and Asif Ali Zardari — whom he once referred to as a thief — the premier said: “What did Imran Khan say about his allies [in the past]?”
"We do not believe in political vengeance," PM Shehbaz said.
The appointment of the next army chief is a constitutional matter, PM Shehbaz said, adding that the government would fill the post after the sitting army chief completes its tenure.