ISLAMABAD - Federal Planning and Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal Thursday said that any efforts to derail democracy would harm the country as political stability and smooth transition of power were the only way for sustainable development of Pakistan.

He said that smooth transition of power after the next general elections was essential for turning Pakistan into a mature democracy and achieving sustainable development.

Talking to a select group of journalists, the minister said, there should be a complete harmony between civilian and military leadership to move forward the country on the path of development. 

Ahsan Iqbal said it was for the first time in 66 years history of the country that the previous democratic government completed its tenure which had sent a positive message to the world that Pakistan was becoming a democratic state.

Similarly, he said, the government wanted that the next elections in 2018 should be held in a free, fair and transparent manner, adding electoral reforms law was passed recently for this purpose. Now work was continuing for delimitation of constituencies according to the latest census.

Replying to a question, he said, the PML-N was united under the dynamic leadership of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. "There was no rift in party and people had always voted for Nawaz Sharif," he said.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the General Election 2018 would actually be a referendum on efforts of the government to develop the country. The minister went on to say that a systematic campaign was being run to create wedge in civil-military relations.

Some desperate politicians, who know that they could not win against PML-N in elections, could be part of a conspiracy against the democratic government, he explained.

Regarding role of media, Ahsan Iqbal said both successes and deficiencies of the government should be highlighted in a balanced manner rather than portraying a dismal picture before masses.

The minister said Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf had a role in weakening the political system and national economy. During his rule, $90 billion flowed into Pakistan but unfortunately he could not undertake a single project of electricity, motorway or a dam.

He said Musharraf could have gained a lot of benefits from the United States but failed to do so and only worked for prolonging his rule.

To a question about Pak-US relations, he said that Americans were told that they could not show any development projects started by them in Pakistan except a few in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The minister said that due to the policies of Nawaz Sharif, peace has been restored in the country including Karachi and Balochistan, adding Nawaz Sharif launched first-ever mega projects in Balochistan and built motorway from Gwadar to Karachi. The roads built in Balochistan have shortened the distance between Gwadar and Karachi from 24 hours to only 8 hours. "Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is rising and electricity shortages have been brought under control. The world's key investors were eyeing Pakistan as a potential investment market," he said.

The minister said 5.3 per cent GDP growth had been achieved while 6 per cent target of GDP growth had been set for this fiscal year.

The minister said had the political circumstances remained stable the government would have managed to achieve 6.5 per cent GDP growth, however, 6 per cent target would be achieved positively.

He said the incumbent government added around 10,000MW electricity to national grid in last four years as compared to 16,000MW which were added in the last 66 years.

The minister said unprecedented investment has been made in power sector, adding further 15,000MW electricity would be added to the system by 2025 to meet the energy requirements of the country.

Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan has achieved matchless success in war against terrorism in last four years as 80 to 95 per cent decrease has been witnessed in crimes related to terrorism.

He said peace has also been restored in Karachi and life has become normal while more than 100 factories, closed in the past there, have restarted their operations.

While the opposition, he said was criticising building of road networks without knowing importance of roads in development.

The masses could get education and health facilities through roads, adding that if roads were not important then why China was spending billions of rupees on building roads to link South and Middle East, he said.  "This is a real change which is being achieved through positive results," he said, adding Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf (PTI) could not bring change but has been running a campaign to create confusion in the country.

He said initiation of CPEC was a watershed moment in the history of Pakistan that has elevated country's status as potential regional economic power. He said that lack of proper leadership and power politics had hindered Pakistan's progress and, therefore, "We must learn from our past mistakes."

Replying to another question, he said there was a need to develop harmony among state institutions as internal stability was imperative to face external challenges.

He also highlighted importance of smooth civil-military relations and said, harmonious civil-military ties are imperative to achieve progress and fight terrorism in a more powerful manner.

 "PML-N has always shown respect to national institutions and never wanted a confrontation with them," he said, adding rule of law was vital to run affairs of the country. "We have to defend our evolutionary process. According to our survey to determine where Pakistan will stand after its 100 years, we estimate that by 2047 our per capita income can go from the present $1600 to $2800," he added.