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December 6, 2018

Army, govt on ‘same page after long time’: Fawad

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December 6, 2018

LONDON: The Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Fawad Chaudhry has said Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership are on the same page “after a long time” and the operation against Tehreek Labaik Pakistan (TLP) was started with a united strategy of all the institutions.

Fawad Chaudhry was speaking at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS). The IISS Senior Fellow Rahul Roy-Chaudhury chaired the event. Fawad claimed that Imran Khan’s rise and Pakistan’s middle class is happy with the way the country is going ahead. He said the way all the institutions acted in unison against the “militant” TLP showed a unique unanimity of institutions against militancy. “All the institutions are giving us full support,” he said.

Fawad Chaudhry said extremism is not only confined to Pakistan but Germany, France and UK are also grappled with the issue. He said some groups from the UK are sending money to the militant groups in Pakistan. The information minister said it is unfortunate that Pakistan is being seen in the West with the lense of Af-Pak, instead of Pakistan on its own as a vibrant and a democratic nation. “We are a modern country. Our culture is one of the richest in the world. We are one of the most modern Muslim countries. No other Muslim country can come close to us.”

Chaudhry said Imran khan is a revolution of the Pakistani middle class. “The primary slogan of Imran Khan remains transparency and good governance. That slogan became so popular that a third party was born in country where two party system was entrenched and where emergence of the third party was not easy but the PTI defeated the two powerful parties. Our main competition is with our performance, the other two parties are not in the game anymore. We will bring everyone under the law and the most powerful people were sent behind the bars.”

He said PTI’s government was able to take the big decision of opening the Kartarpur Corridor with the “full cooperation of the Pakistan Army”. He said we believe that India and Pakistan need to come together to fight poverty for the stability in the South Asian region but this is only possible through India-Pakistan dialogue. He hoped the Indian government will re-think its current approach once the Indian elections are over. Chaudhry said it is in India’s interest to develop friendship with Pakistan.

However, he stressed that Kashmir remains the core issue and Pakistan will not budge from its position. He claimed that Imran Khan is “the best bet to achieve peace in Afghanistan because he understands the Afghan culture and the PTI rules in KP.” Answering a question, the Information Minister claimed that Pakistan has the most “free media in the world”, and there are no curbs onthe media. He linked the issue of missing persons with the war-like situation in Pakistan, and claimed their number has reduced. “Imran Khan has spoken categorically on this issue”.

Speaking to Pakistani media after the event, Chaudhry accepted that bringing money from abroad will be “difficult”. He was asked by this correspondent if he could give a timeline as to when the money will be returned to Pakistan as promised and claimed by his government. He said it’s difficult to bring back the money that has left the country but said the PM’s Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar is doing his best and is negotiating with different countries. Fawad said only if 10-15 people within Pakistan are caught “then the whole amount will be brought” but he didn’t explain who these 10-15 people were.

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