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December 6, 2018

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

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December 6, 2018

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

Fawad Chaudhry was speaking at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS). IISS Senior Fellow Rahul Roy-Chaudhury chaired the event.

Chaudhry claimed that Imran Khan’s rise and PTI’s emergence as the third party showed that Pakistan’s middle classes are happy with the Pakistan is going ahead and the way all institutions acted in unison against the “militant” TLP showed a unique proposition of institutions coming together against the threat of militancy.

“All institutions are giving us full support,” he said.

Fawad Chaudhry said that extremism was not only confined to Pakistan and countries such as Germany, France and UK grappled with this issue. He said that some groups from UK sent money to militant groups in Pakistan.

Fawad said it was unfortunate that Pakistan was being seen in the West with the lenses of Af-Pak instead of Pakistan on its own as a vibrant, 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 that 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 third part is not easy but PTI defeated two powerful parties. Our main completion is with our performance, the other two parties are not in the game anymore. We will bring everyone under the law, most powerful people have been sent behind the bar.”

Chaudhry said that it was in India’s interest to develop friendship with Pakistan.

Answering a question, Chaudhry said the whole foreign policy paradigm needs to be changed. He said that for the opening of the Kartarpur border, PTI’s government was able to take such a big decision with “full cooperation from Pakistan army”.

He added: “It’s due to this cooperation that we have been able to take such a big decision.” He said Pakistan believed that India and Pakistan need to come together to fight poverty and for stability in the South Asian region but this is possible through India-Pakistan dialogue. He hoped the Indian government will re-think its current approach once Indian elections are over. However, he stressed that Kashmir remains the core issue and Pakistan will not budge from its position.

He claimed that Imran Khan was “the best bet to achieve peace in Afghanistan because he understands Afghan culture and PTI rules in KP”.

Answering a question, the Information Minister claimed that Pakistan has the “freest media in the world”, that there were no curbs on media.

He linked the issue of missing persons with the war-like situation Pakistan has been, and said the number of missing persons 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 that the PM’s Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar was doing his best and talking to different countries. Fawad said that if 10-15 people within Pakistan are caught “then the whole amount will be caught” but he didn’t explain who these 10-15 people were.

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