Islamabad - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that courts should deliver justice and it must also be seen to be done, however, the same did not appear to be happening with ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

“I always say, justice is not being seen to be delivered in this [Sharif’s] case,” he said in an interview with DawnNewsTV.

Abbasi said he and ‘everyone else’ is questioning today whether the biggest criminal of the country was Nawaz Sharif, whether so many references were ever filed against anyone else and whether anyone was disqualified on such ‘flimsy grounds’. The answers to these questions will become apparent tomorrow, if not today, he said.

“People ask ‘if the former prime minister of a country cannot get justice from courts, then who will’?” he complained, but added that the government will implement court orders if Sharif is sent to prison.

In response to a question, the premier said he does not see any obstacle that could prevent general elections 2018 from taking place on time.

“When I came [to the Prime Minister’s Office] on August 1 [last year], they said the government would not last three months; then they said it would not go beyond December 31; then said the Senate elections will not take place.”

But all that happened, Abbasi said, adding that the government will complete its term and the elections will then take place within 60 days.

Abbasi said he had commenced talks with Leader of the Opposition Khursheed Shah about the caretaker prime minister but a name had yet to be proposed by either side.

Talking about the upcoming election for the Senate chairman, the prime minister said his ruling PML-N desires that the leader of the upper house should be elected with consensus.

He said the Senate and national politics of the country had suffered “immense losses” in this month’s Senate elections because of horsetrading, which he claimed was “very apparent”.

“If a political party does not have the required number of or any MPAs [members of a provincial assembly], how can their senator be elected?” he asked, adding that there is a need to reform the process of Senate elections as the priorities of those “who have been elected by paying money” would be questionable.

Abbasi claimed that the PML-N and their elected senators can say on oath they did not use any money for the Senate elections and other parties should do the same.

Although he refused to take any names, the prime minister claimed that some parties even had to pay their own MPAs to get their votes and his party will expose such people.

‘Ali Siddiqui was chosen as US ambassador on merit’

Asked why he had approved the appointment of Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, son of prominent businessman Jahangir Siddiqui, as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, the prime minister said he had chosen a person who was suitable for the assignment.

The current situation in the US is unique and difficult to handle for traditional diplomacy, Abbasi said, adding that they had nominated Siddiqui after a two-month review because he is “educated and possesses world and political experience”.

“You will now see a new colour of political diplomacy there [US] that will go in Pakistan’s favour,” he said.

Rubbishing allegations of nepotism, Abbasi said Siddiqui was a person who could serve well in the unique political scenario prevailing in the US.

 

Abbasi said Musharraf was removed from the Exit Control List and allowed to travel abroad on court orders for medical treatment and government was ready to bring him back if the court ordered so.

Asked as to why the government had not placed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on the ECL, he said it was the government’s discretion and believed that being the leader of the biggest political party, Nawaz Sharif would never leave the country.

He said Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on weak grounds and his cases had been made time bound. His cases were being heard thrice a week, he added.

About the National Accountability Ordinance, he said it was promulgated by a dictator that should have been abolished long ago. Even the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf  had once evolved consensus over a draft of the amended law but, later, both the opposition parties changed their minds.

He ruled out the rumours that Siddiqui was his business partner.

To another question, the prime minister said Nawaz Sharif had been appearing before the courts as legal obligation.

Asked as to whether any conspiracy was being hatched against the former prime minister, he said any decision, which hurt the country, was considered a conspiracy.

He said Shehbaz was the candidate for the premiership, however, the party would take the final decision after it got the majority in the next general election.

Regarding Pakistan’s possible placement on the FATF’s grey list in June, the prime minister said a lobby had worked against the country, but despite not being member of the body, it presented its viewpoint and steps very clearly. The country’s position had been clearly explained to the world, he added.

Regarding the registration of Milli Muslim League backed by Hafiz Saeed Ahmed, he said the Election Commission  of Pakistan would decide the matter and the government would review it if the court had ordered so.

To a question about the fate of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, he said no one was ready to fund the project as Iran was not allowed to export gas. Moreover, the financiers were reluctant to support as the funding was not protected under certain laws.

He called for an end to Indian atrocities in the occupied Kashmir and said Pakistan had been urging the world to pressure India to resolve the dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council’s resolutions.

He said Pakistan wanted peace in Afghanistan as any lawlessness in that country directly impacted it. The Afghans must sit together to resolve their issues themselves, he added.

Responding to a query, Abbasi said the improvement of Pakistan’s economy was being acknowledged worldwide as many of the challenges had been handled and the rest were being addressed.

About PIA’s privatization and restructuring, he said the entity had incurred Rs 45 billion loss last year, which could not go for long.

He openly offered to the opposition parties criticizing the process, to take over the PIA even without any money but they should prove by reviving it.

 

Don’t see justice being delivered in Nawaz’s case: PM