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November 7, 2017



Govt, opposition differences over census jeopardise timely polls

ISLAMABAD: Differences between the government and opposition over the census results have cast a shadow on timely holding of the next general elections.

Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah on Monday said the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) did not take a U-turn on the issue of delimitation of constituencies of the National Assembly but had raised questions over the provisional results of the latest population census in Sindh.

“The PPP will have no issue if the elections were held on the basis of the 1998 census as question marks have been raised on the provisional results of the population census of 2017, so that the elections could be held on scheduled time,” he said while talking to media persons here at his chamber in the Parliament House.

He said the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had won the elections in its constituencies and thus it shouldn’t object to holding the general elections under the same delimitations. Commenting on the proposal of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for early elections, the opposition leader said the PPP is not supportive of early elections. “The assemblies should complete their constitutional tenure and the elections should be held on time,” he said.

Talking about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Khursheed Shah said Nawaz Sharif knows who his enemy is. “Conspirators against Nawaz Sharif were the people very close to him and very close people to Nawaz Sharif are the ones conspiring against him,” he said.

The opposition leader said Nawaz Sharif’s politics will end permanently if he flees this time. “If Nawaz Sharif comes back to the country with same thinking which he used to advise the others for respecting the judiciary and face it, then it will be good for him,” he said. 

He said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi calling a disqualified man his prime minister is ‘the joke of the year’. “Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is a powerless acting prime minister and even calls Nawaz Sharif a prime minister. If he wants to say Nawaz Sharif prime minister, then he could say it off the record,” he said.

Khursheed Shah said while the political parties were fighting over their own interests, no one was bothered about the plight of the poor.

Agencies add from Peshawar: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said not holding the general elections according to the fresh census will create a constitutional crisis.

Talking to the media in Peshawar after inaugurating an executive passport office and Nadra mega centre, the minister said the federal government has no domain to differentiate between the urban and rural areas, adding that it was the responsibility of the provincial governments. He said certain quarters were spreading  rumours regarding the population census and wanted general
elections on the old population consensus. He said holding elections without new population census would create new problems in the country.

The minister said nobody would be allowed to create dispute over the matter. He said the population census was conducted by the Pakistan Army and civil government in a very transparent manner for which both deserve appreciation. He said according to the new census, the constituencies in KP and Balochistan have been increased and any constitutional and legal battle over the matter would jeopardise the upcoming general elections. 

Ahsan Iqbal said some elements wanted to create an environment of mistrust between the army and the government. He said officials of the Pakistan Army sacrificed their lives in the war against terror and "we are proud of their supreme sacrifices".

The minister said political stability was must for making the country an economic giant among the comity of nations. He said the PML-N government had put the country on the road to progress and prosperity. He called for refraining from blame game and developing national cohesion, adding that such things would end up in political turmoil. 

The minister recalled that the PML-N came into power in 2013, when the country was in total disarray and its economy was like a sinking ship where there was no electricity and peace. He said 20 hours loadshedding was a routine matter, economic wheels were stopped while there was a big energy crisis. "However, with the blessing of Allah Almighty, today we proved all the speculations being made in 2013 wrong and put the country on fast track of development,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal lauded the performance of Nadra, saying that after making reforms within the organisation, now other countries were also benefiting from the authority’s services. The minister said the growth rate of the country has increased from 3 to 5 percent, whereas 10,000MW electricity would be added to the national grid by 2018. He recalled that during last 66 years, only 16,000MW electricity was generated. He said that the industrial sector was being provided uninterrupted electricity. He said the crime ratio has dropped by 80 to 90 percent whereas new blood has been injected into economic rigs. 

Ahsan Iqbal said backbone of the terrorists has been broken. However, he regretted that a specific group in the country was spreading disappointment in a bid to snatch self-confidence from the people, which he said would not be allowed. 

Referring to the report of Transparency International, he said if the economic pace which the country has attained remained so, Pakistan would soon be among the largest 20 economies of the world. He said the PTI chief Imran Khan has introduced a trend in politics that was casting negative impact on the educated lot of the country.