Only no-trust vote can push for early polls: PM

ISLAMABAD –  Reiterating his commitment to let the current government and parliament complete its term on June 1 next year, 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 early elections or get the current government changed, 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 new elections and the delimitation of constituencies.

To a question about the possible `dharnas’ (sit-ins) after December 31 led by Dr Tahirul Qadri of PAT (Pakistan Awami Tahreek) and supported by major opposition parties including PPP and PTI, the prime minister said the sit-ins did not provide any solution of problems.

He said all these political parties had their presence in the parliament and they should choose the parliament for agitation on any issue.

To a question, the prime minister, however, added that as it was the duty of the government to maintain law and order, it would do every effort to achieve it without any loss of lives.

To a question about the Model Town incident, he said the facts about the incident were different from those being portrayed in the media, adding the affected should approach the courts to get justice.

About civil-military relations, the prime minister termed the recent visit of Senate by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) as “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 by the COAS and the 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 the Constitution.”

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

Abbasi, in response to a question about the claims that some parliamentarians were being contacted by unknown 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 army chief 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 are to 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 prime minister 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.

The prime minister further stated 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,” 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, he said if the party decides he can consider.

About the appointment of Miftah Ismail and Rana Afzal and adviser 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 Khatm-e-Nabuwat and amendment in the election declaration form, the prime minister said it was done after 104 meetings of NA and Senate committees, which had the representation of all political parties.

To a question, the prime minister said all the political forces and state institutions should work in unison in the best interest of the country and the nation.

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