ISLAMABAD - Breaking the silence and endorsing the ongoing operation against miscreants and terrorists in Karachi, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said peace in the port city would be in the interest of all and that all the political parties had backed it.

While talking to a delegation of PML-N MNAs from Faisalabad division who called on him at the PM House on Thursday, Nawaz Sharif made it loud and clear that there was no space for terrorism in the country.

The prime minister said the country was facing big challenges which the government was tackling through effective policies. “But backlog of the past several years cannot be fixed through a magic wand. We must make ourselves stronger. I wish to handle the major challenges the country is facing before the next general elections,” he added.

About the operation against terrorists and miscreants in Karachi, the prime minister said, “It is in the interest of all of us that the commercial hub of the country remains peaceful and stable,” adding that before launching of an operation in Karachi all political parties were taken on board and after consensus of all of them it was initiated.

He said the situation in Karachi had considerably improved after the start of the operation and incidents of kidnapping for ransom, extortion and target killing had decreased.

The prime minister said there was no justification for anyone in the country to keep illegal weapons. The criminals convicted in heinous crimes would be brought to justice, he said. “There is no space for terrorism in Pakistan,” he said.

He said since coming into power, PML-N as a political party tried its best to take all the parties along on national issues.

The prime minister said PML-N gave respect to all political parties and considered divergence of views as beauty of democracy in the larger interest of the nation.

He said workers and leaders of PML-N had struggled for democracy and the rule of law having given immense sacrifices for its restoration. “Now it is binding upon us to strengthen it and remain tolerant towards others,” he averred.

The prime minister said the recent by-election in Nankana had proven that PML-N’s policies were gaining popularity among the masses because its candidate defeated his opponent with a big margin of 40,000 votes.

He said the government had prioritised generation of electricity in the country. “It has been decided that 3,600MW LNG-based plants will be set up through PSDP funding. In addition, work is underway for import of electricity from China as well as on other projects, including Neelam-Jhelum, Guddu, Nandipur, Diamer-Bhasha and Dasu,” he said. He claimed that on account of the government policies around 10,000MW of electricity would be added to the national grid by the end of 2017. The PM said directions had already been issued to the Ministry of Water and Power for less loadshedding during the summer.

The prime minister said whenever PML-N came into power, its leadership worked for the betterment of the people, ensuring transparency and development in infrastructure and social sectors. “We want to improve the image of the country in the comity of nations, in addition to working for better relations with neighbouring countries,” he said.

The prime minister announced he would soon visit Faisalabad division, meet workers and announce development projects for the welfare of the residents of those areas.

He said the government had zero tolerance for any kind of corruption and steps were being taken to ensure transparency and merit at all levels.

During the meeting that lasted more than three hours, the prime minister listened to the views of each of the participants and sought suggestions from them about improving governance and providing maximum relief to the people.

The MNAs congratulated the prime minister for making effective policies to tackle several important challenges. They told him that a marked reduction in oil prices had helped the farming community, industrialists, merchants and the common man. They appreciated the patience and restraint shown by the government last year when undemocratic forces attempted to destabilise democratic institutions in the country. They also said that people in their constituencies were highly appreciative of the government’s decision of launching Zarb-e-Azb and Karachi operation and were praying for their complete success.

The MNAs who met the PM were Lt-Col (r) Ghulam Rasool Sahi, Muhammad Talal Chaudhry, Rajab Ali Khan Baloch, Chaudhry Muhammad Shahbaz, Mian Muhammad Farooq, Dr Nisar Ahmad Jatt, Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, Mian Abdul Mannan, Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, Haji Muhammad Akram Ansari, Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh, Ghulam Muhammad Lali, Sheikh Muhammad Akram, Sahibzada Muhammad Nazir Sultan, Najaf Abbas Sial, Chaudhry Khalid Javaid Warraich, Muhammad Junaid Anwaar Chaudhry and Chaudhry Asad-ur-Rahman.

Political Secretary to PM Dr Asif Kirmani and Capt (r) Muhammad Safdar MNA also attended the meeting.