Tuesday, September 26, 2023
LONDON: Interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has said that everyone is equal before the law and no exclusive approach will be applied to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his fellows in relation to the May 9 attacks on the Pakistan Army installations as the state is determined to punish all those who were involved in the challenging writ of the state through acts of arson and destruction.
The interim premier said that the May 9 attacks on the military installations by the PTI were orchestrated and designed. “I see truth in the assessment that the May 9 events were orchestrated to target the current military leadership as to how to undo or compromise that authority as part of a grand plan. It’s a sub-judice matter so I don’t want to comment more on this.”
The interim PM spoke to students on Tuesday at Oxford University’s Oxford Union and also addressed Pakistani media at Pakistan High Commission London at the completion of his whirlwind tour of the US and UK.
PM Kakar emphasised, answering questions: “We are committed to fair elections. This includes giving PTI space in those elections on an equal basis. It is the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) prerogative to give the date and we will stick to it. There is no doubt about that. We will provide assistance to the ECP. We will pass on instructions. The elections will be monitored by local and international observers. Making allegations of foul play is part of our political culture. But, as long as elections are relatively transparent, it means we have done our job.”
When asked about several PTI leaders and the former premier facing serious charges of arson, terrorism and the state of human rights and media freedoms, Kakar said that those in prisons or being prosecuted have been involved in acts of vandalism, arson, destruction of public property and such elements in any civilised state will be facing such charges.
The caretaker PM said that no exclusive approach will be applied to Imran Khan and the PTI as everyone is equal before the eyes of the law, adding that nobody is above the law and none can be allowed to play with the laws of the land for political reasons.
He said: “We have a state of social order. You cannot attack that order or erode it. Chaos and anarchy are not the goals of any society. Why should there be leniency towards one party? Why should there be exclusive treatment for anyone? Laws will be implemented at all costs in letter and spirit. Whoever is convicted, it is because of their actions. There will be no injustice or false charges against anyone.”
He said that he cannot predict who will be part of the next election or not. Kakar said that the media had attributed wrong statements to him linking him to Imran Khan’s future in the next elections. “Whether Imran Khan can take part or not is a matter of the law. Can you take part in elections if you are a dual national? The answer is no because there are laws that stop you from doing so. If the law allows, one can take part in elections. The executive has no role in legal matters.”
When asked if there would be any deal with Imran Khan on the May 9 related issues, the PM rejected emphatically any such impression. He said: “There is no deal and no dheel. The media is hungry for news. Media needs new angles and news all the time. This is speculative news. Anyone who is a convict will get the punishment. These are standard procedures. If someone violates a law in this country, that person is convicted and punished. It’s very simple.”
He regretted that the PTI didn’t play parliamentary politics. “If they were playing parliamentary politics then Imran Khan would be the current opposition leader.”
The PM said that when PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif lands in Pakistan, the law of the land will take its course but “there are many legal aspects to it." Kakar further said, "The PML-N supremo left Pakistan on court permission and this has to be seen upon his return. We will take advice from the law ministry. We don’t want to give the impression that we are targeting anyone. We want to do everything legally. I have not held any meetings with any politician in London.”
He said that press freedom generally is curbed everywhere from India to Pakistan and elsewhere. He continued, "But, what I can assure you is that every criticism appears in the Pakistani press. We do not use leverage to influence the media. I don’t see that the media in Pakistan is being stifled."
The interim PM acknowledged that there is some civil-military imbalance, but he believes that "the larger criticism of the Pakistani Army is unfounded and out of context."
"Much of the criticism now relies on hearsay," he added.
Kakar said that several leading companies were investing in Pakistan and the investment of billions in Reko Diq in recent weeks was an example. “News about disruption and instability are blown out of proportion," he added.
The Prime Minister condemned the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada by agents of the Indian government. He said the Khalistan Referendum and Sikhs For Justice’s leader's killing inside a Gurdawara was proof that India was involved in acts of terrorism at home and abroad. He said the Modi regime believed in the Hindutva ideology which believes in eliminating everyone including Muslims, Christians, Jains and others.