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Monday July 22, 2024

NA dissolved; consultation under way for interim setup

Shehbaz, Raja Riaz to hold talks on name of caretaker PM today

By Ag App & Muhammad Anis
August 10, 2023
President Dr Arif Alvi is signing the summary for the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 10, 2023. — Twitter/@PresidentofPakistan
President Dr Arif Alvi is signing the summary for the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 10, 2023. — Twitter/@PresidentofPakistan

ISLAMABAD: In a late-night development on Wednesday, President Dr Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif under Article 58-1 of the Constitution.

The prime minister had sent a summary to the president with an advice for the dissolution of the National Assembly. The president dissolves the National Assembly under Article 58-1 of the Constitution. “The President shall dissolve the National Assembly if so advised by the Prime Minister, and the National Assembly shall unless sooner dissolved, stand dissolved at the expiration of forty eight hours after Prime Minister has so advised,” the Article 58-1 reads.

Earlier, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs sent a summary to the prime minister for dissolution of the National Assembly. In his farewell address to the National Assembly, PM Shehbaz said that he would meet the Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz on Thursday (today) to consult him on the name of caretaker prime minister. “Raja sb is not present in the House right now. I will hold first meeting with him to consult the name of caretaker prime minister as per constitutional requirement,” the premier said. He pointed that as per the Constitution, they both have three days to reach a final name, but if they could not decide, the issue would go to parliament, and then chief election commissioner (CEC).

The sources said that the meeting was scheduled to take place on Wednesday but it was not possible due to the busy schedule of both leaders, the leader of the house and leader of the opposition. Now the prime minister has confirmed that he will meet the opposition leader on Thursday. The sources said that names of ex-foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani and ex-finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh are emerging as potential candidates.

Many MNAs were seen surrounding the interior minister to get their applications signed by him when the prime minister was delivering his speech. The members did not pay heed to the request of Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to take their seats. On that, the prime minister intervened and directed the interior minister to occupy his seat. The PM said the present government assumed power in difficult circumstances when the country was facing tough challenges and it had to bear the burden, failures and negligence of the previous regime.

“We assumed power in 2022 in such a difficult period when a person in the National Assembly was calling every respectable member, except a couple of parliamentarians, thieves and dacoits,” he said. The prime minister said that the last 16 months were the most difficult period of his 38-year political history when the government was facing the IMF challenge, price hike and threats of sit-ins and agitation in the country.

He said the 16-month tenure was the shortest-ever period for a government, particularly when compared to the plethora of issues inherited from the previous regime. He said the previous government also set precedents of corruption, adding that first sugar and wheat were exported and then imported, only to mint money at the cost of national exchequer. He said the last government pushed the opposition to the wall but the present government did not resort to victimisation.

However, he (PTI chief) as an opponent has been imprisoned, and it was not a matter to celebrate or distribute sweets but what he did with the country at external and internal fronts was before the nation.

He said through its poor conduct and episodes like the “cipher drama”, the previous government undermined foreign relations, including with the United States, besides carrying out defamatory propaganda against the political opponents.

He said that May 9 would be remembered as the darkest day in the country’s history when gangs resorted to such vandalism in which memorials of Shuhada and sensitive installations were attacked. “I will suggest that the House should pass a resolution so that nobody could dare attack the national institutions like the Armed Forces,” he said. He said the nation also saw vicious faces of those elements who were praying that IMF talks should fail and the country head towards default.

The prime minister said it was unique in the country’s history that the coalition government, having parties with 80 to one member, extended great cooperation in running the affairs of the country. He especially named Bilawal Bhutto Zardari whom he called his younger brother and praised his diplomatic efforts for the country. “You did the best diplomacy and presented the case of Pakistan at every forum,” the prime minister said while addressing the foreign minister.

He uttered the names of parliamentary leaders, senior parliamentarians of all the parties and federal ministers for their cooperation. Shehbaz also appreciated the speaker, secretary and other officials of the National Assembly Secretariat for their contributions in execution of the assembly’s business.

Later, the prime minister had a group photo with all the members of the House inside the National Assembly hall. The last session of the outgoing National Assembly was prorogued on Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, addressing the cabinet meeting, the prime minister lauded and appreciated the coalition partners for demonstrating maturity, sincerity, dedication and loyalty for bringing economic stability in the country. He stressed the need for ensuring national unity, as it was vital for socio-economic development of the country.

He said the political leadership had set aside all their political differences and worked diligently to bring the country out of crises. He said the coalition government, in its 16-month stint, the shortest tenure of a government in the country’s history, endeavoured to serve the people.

The big challenge faced during the period was of flash floods that hit most parts of the country, especially in Sindh and Balochistan, but the way the federal and provincial governments joined hands to cope with the calamitous situation was worth appreciating, he said. All the institutions, including the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) played a crucial role in the rehabilitation process, he added. The prime minister also thanked the-then chief of the army staff General Qamar Bajwa, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Minister for BISP Shazia Marri, who worked as a team during the rehabilitation process in the flood-hit areas.

PM Shehbaz said the government had to face another challenge of high inflation that affected the ordinary person badly. The main reason behind it was the criminal negligence of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government that had badly damaged the economic structure.

The coalition partners fully supported the government in taking tough decisions such as raising petroleum prices and sacrificed their politics for the sake of stability and development, he added.

With regard to the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the prime minister said all the stakeholders, including the minister for finance, contributed towards its finalisation. He also thanked China for supporting Pakistan during the crisis, as the IMF deal would not have been possible without its support.

“Chinese Premier Li had told me that he himself had talked to the IMF managing director to support Pakistan,” he said, adding during the last four months, China had also rolled over a loan of $5 billion.

He said a high-level Chinese delegation recently visited Pakistan. It showed Pakistan is China’s best friend and the later would extend all-out support to it. The delegation had officially announced the launch of second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) encompassing many projects in agriculture, IT, Industries and export sectors, he added.

The prime minister said the coalition government had completed many projects in Gwadar, which were lingering for a long time, in the shortest- possible time.

PM Shehbaz termed the May 09 incidents as the worst conspiracy against the State, Pakistan Army and Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir. However, due to the firmness showed by the Army Chief, the situation got under control within hours, he added.

He said the initiative of establishing the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) would help improve the economic conditions. “The federal government, all provinces and institutions, especially the Pakistan Army, are part of this project,” and it was the best opportunity to take the country’s development and prosperity to new peaks, he added.

The prime minister expressed the hope that the incoming government would continue the project with the same passion.

Many cabinet members also expressed their experiences and thanked the prime minister for his support.

Separately, in a tweet, Shehbaz said the coalition government had laid the foundation of economic recovery in the form of SIFC.

“In my address, I made it clear that the best way to pay tribute to the martyrs is to make Pakistan economically strong and self-sufficient,” he said.

The prime minister said it was an honor for him to attend and address the function organised in the honor of martyrs and Ghazis at the GHQ.

“The nation is indebted to all these great families whose loved ones sacrificed their lives for our safe and bright future. Living nations always remember their services,” he added.

Meanwhile, the prime minister announced a package to facilitate overseas Pakistanis with multiple initiatives and expressed optimism that the upcoming government would continue its implementation.

The prime minister, on the occasion, said that Pakistani diaspora had been living in different parts of the world, and they had earned fame for the country for their hard work, contributions and innovations. Underlining the need to facilitate them without wasting time, he said such initiatives would provide the overseas Pakistanis a sort of encouragement.

“They are the great ambassadors of Pakistan. And if provided with the skill development training with certifications from the global companies, the Pakistani manpower can further supplement the valuable remittances being sent to the country,” he added.

In the Gulf and Europe, the prime minister said, there was a huge market for skilled labour, adding if the models and patterns used by certain countries to train their manpower were adopted in Pakistan, they could equip their manpower properly to meet growing modern-day requirements across the world. The prime minister also appreciated the minister for overseas Pakistanis, the officials of ministry and their team for taking measures to facilitate the expatriate Pakistanis.

Earlier, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sajid Turi highlighted the achievements of his ministry. He said that online facilities were provided to the overseas Pakistanis, including redressal of their issues regarding property issues, enrollment at Overseas Pakistanis Foundation schools, housing society, passports and others.

He said that they had signed agreements with 15 countries while 12 were under the process to send manpower abroad. The ministry had sent about 1.22 million Pakistani nationals to different countries, thus taking the number of overseas Pakistanis to over 10 million.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz said that the government would spend a total of Rs377 billion on solarisation of agriculture tube-wells across the country. “As part of the government’s revolutionary solarisation project of generating 10,000 MW to replace the costly thermal power, I launched a programme for solarisation of 100,000 tube wells,” he said on his Twitter handle.

He said the solarisation of tube-wells would provide cheap electricity to farmers and boost domestic agricultural yield, leading to self-sufficiency in food production.

“Our economy can’t grow with high power tariffs. We have to replace the power plants operating on costlier fuel that burdens our people and results in circular debt. The long-term solution lies in tapping our abundant solar & hydel energy resources. A total of Rs377 billion will be spent on solarisation of tubewells,” the prime minister added.

PM Shehbaz said other than solar, nuclear and coal power projects, the coalition government had focused its attention on the development of hydropower projects. “We have offered our brotherly country, KSA, to invest in the multipurpose Diamer-Bhasha dam.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif on Wednesday said economic stability would be the biggest challenge for the upcoming government after the general elections. In his farewell speech at the National Assembly, he said the country witnessed stability after November 2022 and further stability will come after the next general elections.

The minister stressed the need for collective efforts to put Pakistan on the path of economic stability by utilising its own resources instead of relying on foreign loans.

“Pakistan has sufficient resources for attaining self sufficiency,” he said.

He also passionately appealed to the judiciary to take up the pending tax cases of FBR worth Rs2,670 billion. “Had half of the amount recovered, we would have not needed to go to the IMF or other lending agency for borrowing loans,” he said.

He also requested for vacating stays granted by various courts several years ago into spectrum related cases worth over $1.5 billion. Asif also called for providing relief to the people of Pakistan from the soaring inflation in the country.