Thursday May 23, 2024

Kakar rebuffs clamour for level playing field

Kakar says those talking about level-playing field for all political parties should also remember same situation provided in 2018

By Aamir Ghauri & Muhammad Anis
October 24, 2023
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar addressing a press conference on October 23, 2023. PID
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar addressing a press conference on October 23, 2023. PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said on Monday that those talking about a level-playing field for all political parties should also remember the same situation provided in the 2018 general elections.

“I do not want to discuss political issues, but those talking about a level-playing field should also remember the level-playing field available in the 2018 elections,” the prime minister said while responding to a question at a press conference.

Kakar said that they did not want to keep any political party out of the election process unless there were decisions that were correct or not. “What objections will we have if the coming Parliament decides that such and such judicial decisions are correct or not?” he said.

Without naming Imran Khan, the PM said that neither law nor social order “What objections will we have if the coming Parliament decides that such and such judicial decisions are correct or not?” he said. Prime Minister Kakar was questioned as to which decision the caretakers in one and a half months can take to give a majority to a party in the National Assembly to form the government, saying that every party should focus on its narrative.

Without naming Imran Khan, the prime minister said that neither law nor social order could continue if a person said that he would attack Parliament and PM House, and still he would be called a champion of democracy. “There is clarity in the eyes of the law,” he said, saying that the caretakers could not level the playing field by allowing violence. He questioned what should be the reaction of people if the same violence was committed by religious parties like the JUIF or parties like the PPP or PMLN.

To a question about sending Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul, the prime minister said that for the time being, it was the intention to make illegal Afghans leave the country. Responding to a question about Baloch people joining the PMLN, he said it was up to people to decide to join any political party.

“Is there any direction for them from the Pirme Minister’s House?” he said. Answering a question by The News regarding the durability of MoUs signed during his recent visit to China, the caretaker prime minister hoped the future governments would own these agreements as actions taken by the state and not by a particular government or certain politicians. He said that the next government would accept MoUs being signed by the caretaker setup. Kakar said there was no guarantee, but hopefully, it would not happen that the MoUs reached by the present regime are not flouted outright by the next government. “We hope that MoUs signed by us in national interests are appreciated by the next government and implemented in the true spirit,” he said.

The prime minister said that the Pakistani government had ordered illegal Afghans to leave the country who have been staying here for decades to regulate cross-border movement. He told a questioner that the hustle and bustle showed that the election date would be announced soon. “The ongoing activities show that the election date will be announced soon, and you and I will also vote,” he said.

He said that biometrics are a constitutional right of any Pakistani, saying that Nawaz Sharif is also a natural-born Pakistani with the constitutional right to his biometrics taken. Kakar said that the Chinese investment expected under the newly signed 20 MoUs would prove to be a stimulant for Pakistan’s economic growth.

He said 20 MoUs were signed and hoped that the upcoming government would ensure consistency of the policy. “The signing of 20 MoUs was very encouraging. This is after a long time since the MoUs in such a huge number were signed with China. We have brought along three guiding principles of coordination, cooperation, and consultation with us,” he remarked.

He said the MoUs were yet in the planning stage, and the assessment of their potential, market needs, and impact on exports would precede their execution. Possibly implying that in any working democracy, a government is always in perpetuity, Prime Minister Kakar explained that steps taken by a particular administration in the interest of the country were owned, valued, and continued by successive administrations. When asked if there was a possibility of some leading Baloch Awami Party (BAP) politicians joining the Pakistan Muslim League (N) before the forthcoming elections, the prime minister said all politicians were free to make their political decisions themselves.

“If any politician wants to join a particular political party, he or she has a right to do it independently.” He said a designated cell at the Prime Minister’s Office would carry out the follow-up of the bilateral and other engagements with China to pave the way for their implementation. Talking about his interaction with the Chinese business leaders, he said that under the second phase of the CPEC, the Chinese private business entities would invest in Pakistan’s agriculture, mining, and other sectors. He told the media that the Pakistani leadership’s “constructive” engagement with Chinese counterparts was well received by the Chinese people, media, and think-tanks.

Emphasising the consistency of relations with China, he expressed the hope that the upcoming government would carry forward the momentum, as any deviation from the commitments might put the state’s dignity at stake. He said the address by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Forum was in fact an answer to all the challenges confronting China, the region, and the whole world.

He said the land, sea, and aerial connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative would not only bring the regions closer but also create opportunities for the people. During the visit, the prime minister also met the presidents of Russia, Sri Lanka, and Kenya. In their meeting, the Kenyan president told him that a lot of investigation had been done into the killing of Pakistani news anchor Arshad Sharif and assured him of working in coordination with the Pakistani authorities.

Kakar pointed out the minimal linkage between the Pakistani and Chinese media, despite the fact that there were immense opportunities for both private and state-run media for story-telling, documentaries, and other content. Coming to the issue of Gaza, Prime Minister Kakar told the media that humanitarian aid had landed in Egypt for its onward dispersal to the suffering Palestinian people.

However, the foremost priority was the cessation of hostilities, for which Pakistan was making collaborative efforts, as the country had also co-hosted an OIC ministerial meeting in Jeddah on the issue. “Pakistan is working with other players to work out a solution, and the immediate objective is that the two sides reach a ceasefire,” the prime minister said. In response to a question about the elections, he said the final date for voting would be announced soon and that the caretaker government was trying its utmost to facilitate the electoral process. He said no major political party was out of the political process unless anyone was legally barred.

About the return of Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister Kakar said that he was a political reality and his adversaries should face him in politics. About the economic situation, he said that for the first time in the country’s history, the dollar rate had meaningfully reduced and that he would hold a follow-up meeting with provincial chief secretaries later in the day to ensure the trickle-down effect on the common man in the form of commodities prices and transport fares.

To another query, the prime minister said the existing business model of print media was flawed and would collapse. The print media entities should realign their business approach to thrive in private business instead of relying on the state. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi, Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti, Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, Privatisation Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad, Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz, and Planning Minister Sami Saeed accompanied the prime minister.