ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday announced to have the poll rigging allegations of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) probed in full detail by an independent Supreme Court commission.
He asked the Chief Justice of Pakistan to constitute a 3-judge judicial commission to launch an in depth investigation into the allegations of rigging in the elections of 2013 and come to a final decision.
Earlier, the Prime Minister said he had been repeatedly hearing the charges of poll rigging from a certain party (PTI) but now the entire system is being challenged, putting the international standing of Pakistan at stake.
He said a Parliamentary committee, having representation of all the stakeholders, has been constituted to recommend electoral reforms. The elections of 2018 will be held in the light of these reforms, he added.
Against the backdrop of ‘Azadi March’ of Imran Khan and ‘Revolution March’ of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Dr. Tahirul Qadri, the Premier said he was willing to engage in talks.
“I will not let my ego to come in the way,” he said.
However, the Prime Minister said in a stern tone that no one will be allowed to spread anarchy in the country and play with its Constitution. “No one will be allowed to preach the lesson of bloodshed. No one will be allowed to slit throats in the name of religion.”
He said presently all the institutions are functioning within the parameters of the Constitution. “The country has a Parliament that represents 180 million people of Pakistan, so there is no need to take to the streets to make the country’s decisions.”
He said the nation that is engaged in a war against terrorism will not allow anyone to take their country hostage.
“There is no dictatorship or monarchy in Pakistan. The people are the actual rulers of the country,” he said.
“I respect the right for peaceful protest,” he said but added that a handful of people will not be allowed to hijack the mandate of millions of people.
He also asked the media outlets to review their freedom of expression and determine whether someone was using it to further his personal agenda.
The Prime Minister said since the PML-N government took reins of power in June 2013, Pakistan did make some progress.
“Foreign investors confidence was restored, rupee value strengthened, stock exchange touched new heights, GDP growth rate surged to 4 percent and moving up, youth are getting loans and the government is not facing a single scandal of corruption.”
He said the country not only came out of the crisis it faced at the time of the new government took charge but is now on a path to development and progress.
The Premier mentioned a number of projects initiated by the present government. He said after Tarbela and Mangal dam, work on the biggest dam of Pakistan- Bhasha dam – is being started soon. He said Rs55 billion had been released for purchase of land.
He said construction of Lahore-Karachi motorway will also begin shortly.
Nawaz Sharif regretted that in the backdrop of these projects and development, some elements have come out on streets with ‘hollow slogans’.
“Why protests? What is the purpose of these sit-ins, protests, riots? Ask them as to why they don’t want the country to make move forward on a path to progress?”
About 2013 elections, he said for the first time in the country’s history polls were held under a consensus chief election commissioner, Fakhruddin G Ibrahim.
“Computerized national identity cards issued by NADRA were declared must. Judges performed duties of returning officers,” he said.
He further said that 100 domestic and international channels covered the elections and about 200 observers monitored the polls.
“Not a single one of them termed the polls rigged. The polls were actually termed most transparent in the country’s history with just a few complaints.”
PM Sharif ended his speech by greeting the nation on the eve of independence day.