LAHORE - Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal yesterday strongly refuted all speculations that the 2018 general elections would not be held on time.

Talking to reporters after opening an international conference here, he insisted the polls would be held according to the timeline set by the Constitution.

Some media reports claim the delimitation of constituencies which is necessary after the announcement of the final consensus results would not be possible in six months, so the elections would have to be delayed.

The minister said a particular lobby is hell-bent on constructing a narrative to provoke unconstitutional acts in the country so that they could get their jobs back.

He said there was a troika of failed politicians, retired generals and TV talk show hosts that makes claims about political and economic instability in the country everyday on news channels.

Responding to a question, the minister reiterated that there was no clash between institutions, adding the elections will be held on time in 2018. He said peace and political stability is imperative for development of the country’s economy.

Ahsan said the country’s economy had suffered a lot owing to political developments in the past four years. The Panama Papers scandal caused a loss of around 40 billion dollars to stock market, the minister claimed.

The country’s economy had collapsed in year 2013 when no one was ready to invest in Pakistan, but now it was making progress, the minister said, hoping if it continued to progress at the current pace, the country would be among the world’s 20 largest economies by 2025. All economic indicators were showing positive improvements, he claimed. Consistency in economic policies was indispensable for the progress of the country, he said.

Citing a World Bank report, the Interior Minister said that Pakistan’s economic boom is 10 years high and cannot be disrupted with anymore.

Referring to criticism against the government over growing foreign loans, the minister said loans were taken for the development of the country. Without stability and peace, development was not possible, Ahsan said.

Earlier, the minister addressed the inaugural session of 2nd International Business Conference and Exhibition. He said the prophets of doom were not loyal to Pakistan.

He said: “International institutions are giving credit to Pakistan for economic reforms and progress; it is unfortunate that some talk shows are portraying a negative picture of the country.”

He claimed the present government had added 10,000MW electricity to the system during the four years whereas only 16,000MW electricity had been added during the past 66 years.

The minister said CPEC would enter the next phase soon.

APP adds from Sialkot: Interior Minister Ahsan Saturday said that the elements busy in hatching conspiracies every day in Pakistan are trying to damage Pakistan.

He was addressing the audience after inaugurating the newly-established Narowal District Jail.

He said that the government was successfully foiling all local and international conspiracies against the country, adding that the political elements rejected by masses were now playing in the wrong hands for their vested interests and weakening Pakistan politically and economically.

The interior minister said that political stability is vital for economic stability of the country and effective and constructive policies of the government was taking Pakistan ahead. He said the PML-N government had put the country on the right path to economical and political stability despite the hurdles created by the negative political elements.

Ahsan said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project would change the destiny of Pakistan, as the two countries were taking ahead the project to its next stages successfully.

He said that Pakistan was a peace-loving country, which has rendered a lot of sacrifices to weed out terrorism and establish durable peace globally. He said that the world should acknowledge Pakistan's sacrifices in the war against terrorism globally.

The minister said that the PML-N government had completed a record number of social welfare and human development projects across the country.

Ahsan termed the development of infrastructure from Gilgit to Gwadar an important milestone in the history of the country.

He said that due to its strong policies, the government has been able to overcome the energy shortage. "In the past, the country was facing 20-hour electricity shortages. Now electricity is available 20 hours a day."

Ahsan said the development and improved standard of living was not possible without peace, stability and harmony.

Earlier, Ahsan visited the kitchen, hospital and female barracks at Narowal district jail. He checked the quality of the meals and medical facilities, being provided there.

On this occasion, the senior jail officials told the interior minister that all 375 male and female prisoners belonging to Narowal district have been shifted to the newly established Narowal district jail from Sialkot jail as well.

The minister also directed the jail officials to ensure provision of playground adjacent to the jail for promotion of hockey, football and volleyball games among the prisoners.

Provincial Minister for Prisons Malik Ahmed Yar Hunjra, Inspector General Prisons Punjab Mirza Shahid Saleem Baig, DIG (Prisons) Punjab Malik Mubashar Ahmed Khan, local MPAs Sardar Ramaish Singh Arora, Rana Manan Khan and senior officials were also present on the occasion.