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If anyone wants early elections they can have no-confidence vote against me: Shahid Khaqan

28 December, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Reiterating his commitment to let the current government and parliament complete its tenure, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday categorically stated that those desiring for early polls would have to come up with a no-confidence vote against him in the National Assembly.

“If anyone wants snap elections, the only way – which the constitution provides – is a no-confidence vote against me. There is no other option,” he said in an interview with a private television channel.

The prime minister said with only five months left for the National Assembly to complete its five-year term before the next general election, the parliament could do some important legislative business, particularly with regard to the upcoming election and the delimitation of constituencies.

To a question about the possible sit-ins after December 31 the prime minister said that sit-ins did not provide any solution to problems. He said all these political parties had their presence in parliament and all the issues must be resolved in parliament.

To another question, the premier said that as it was the duty of government to maintain law and order, and added it would do every effort to achieve it without any loss of lives.

When asked about the Model Town incident, he said the facts about the incident were different from those being portrayed in the media.

About civil-military relations, the prime minister termed the recent visit of Senate by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) a ‘good step’ and said such interactions provide good opportunity for clarity of views.

“There can be difference of opinion on issues, but increased interaction brings clarity,” he said and added that he had good working relations with the military leadership, with whom he sits after every two to three weeks in the National Security Committee, where issues are discussed and debated and decisions are taken.

To a question about the dealing and culmination of Faizabad Dharna, he said, the issue was resolved with consensus after an important meeting he chaired and was also attended the COAS and Interior Minister.

To another question, the prime minister said he did not believe in the theory of ‘hidden hands’, adding, the government has to operate under the constitution, and “if there are any hidden hands, they are always out of the ambit of constitution”.

“I believe that anything, which is out of constitution, does not provide solution to any problem,” he said, adding, the elections would be held on time and the people would give their verdict.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in response to a question about the claims that some parliamentarians were being contacted by unidentified persons to persuade them not to attend the National Assembly (NA) and Senate sessions, mentioned the recent legislation in NA where the government secured 163 votes.

“Such things have been happening in the past, but now there is nothing of this sort”, he said and added the chief of army staff also had the positive views.

About the view that opposition forces wanted the fall of government before the Senate elections, the prime minister said it was just media hype and he had no apprehensions about the Senate elections, which would be held by mid-March next year.

To a question about former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s views about judiciary, he said, Nawaz Sharif who was senior political figure, thrice-elected PM and the President of PML-N had the constitutional right to express his reservations about court decisions.

The premier was of the view that the July 28 decision of the Supreme Court and early the one-year long court proceedings before the decision to disqualify Nawaz Sharif had created political and economic instability in the country and confidence of investors was shattered.

“It was a court decision. We accepted it under the Constitutional obligations…. But did the masses accept it? Or the history would accept it? Time would decide it,” he maintained.

He said that the court decision did not put any effect on the political credibility of Nawaz Sharif. “He has a role (in politics) and will continue to have it,” Shahid Khaqan Abbasi added.

He said General Musharraf despite keeping Nawaz Sharif out of country over a decade could not remove him from politics. To a question as if he can again be nominated for the premiership after the 2018 elections, the Prime Minister said, if the party decides, he can consider.

About the appointment of Miftah Ismail and Rana Afzal and Advisor and Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs, respectively, the Prime Minister said a full-time team was needed to look after the financial affairs and take decisions in the Ministry of Finance.

He also mentioned the government’s economic performance and said despite the instability created due to court proceedings, the government achieved a record 5.3 percent GDP growth after 15 years. About the issue of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat and amendment in the election declaration form, the Prime Minster said it was done after 104 meetings of NA and Senate Committees, which had the representation of all political parties.

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