ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Thursday hoped that a consensus caretaker prime minister would be put in place to hold the next general elections to be held in mid of July this year after the incumbent government completes its Constitutional term on May 31st.

“After the latest meeting with Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmad Shah [held on Wednesday], I am very much hopeful for a consensus caretaker Prime Minister,” Prime Minister Abbasi said in an interview with a private television aired on Thursday night.

To a question, he emphatically stated that the PML-N government would rule the country till the last day of its Constitutional term and would not go for dissolving the Assemblies even a day before its term, which was May 31, 2018.

Responding to another question, the Prime Minister said that the general election would be held in-time as neither there was any Constitutional provision to delay the election nor it would be in the interest of the country.

He, however, added that as far as the process and subsequent problems with regard to delimitation of Constituencies as per the new census were concerned, these would hopefully be addressed by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

To a question about his recent meeting with Chief Justice Justice Saqib Nisar, he said that during the meeting which was held on his request, the two sides exchanged views on the issues and challenges faced by the country particularly those related to the executive and judiciary and presented their respective points of view.

He said that he was in favour of such a dialogue between the State organs.

“With no negativity, there was all positivity in the meeting,” he remarked.

About the change of parties by some Parliamentarians, the Prime Minister wondered that some people who remained part of the PML-N government during the last over four and half years, had now come up with their demands including that of a separate province.

“After the election, these people will know what the masses think about them”, he remarked ,adding, “We should learn lessons from the past.” To a question, he said that he was confident that there was no involvement of the Establishment in such changes or horse-trading like in Balochistan. “But if it was so, it would hurt the country politically,” he added.

To a question about his statement regarding horse-trading in election of Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate, the Prime Minister said that this practice had reduced dignity of the Upper House of the Parliament, which represented the Federation. 

He said that time had come to take a lesson from the past’s mistakes and the way-out of discouraging this practice was that seats in the Senate should be allocated according to the party’s position in the Provincial Assemblies.

It would increase stature of the Parliament and also discourage all those who were using money in the Senate polls, he added.

About obeying the NAB court’s order in the case of former Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister said that he had stated many times that Nawaz Sharif would not get justice from the NAB court. He, however, said if the court ordered arrest of the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the government would obey it, but the people would not accept it. Abbasi said jails were not a new place for them.

About desertion of some MNAs and MPAs from the ruling PML-N ahead of the upcoming polls, the Prime Minister said,” if any MNA or MPA want to go he may leave, they [deserters] will be replaced by other representatives from the same constituencies, as the PML-N is a strong and organised party.”

To a question about announcement of Tax Amnesty Scheme ahead of the upcoming budget, the Prime Minister clarified that it was not an amnesty but Tax Reforms Scheme, which was a radical tax reforms in the history of Pakistan.

He said that in the past such kind of schemes, whose main purpose was to collect revenues, failed but added this was not that kind of scheme as its main purpose was to broaden the tax net. He said that it was a five-point tax reforms scheme and it would be applicable from July, 1, 2018.

The Prime Minister, to a question, said that our friendly countries supported Pakistan in the first meeting of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) but later the issue was politicised.

He expressed the hope that the issue would be resolved amicably.