KARACHI: Minutes after a meeting with his predecessor Nawaz Sharif in London on Sunday, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi conceded that conspiracies against his Pakistan Muslim League-N party continued but added that one should fight against such plots.

Before leaving for New York to attend the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly, Mr Abbasi called on the ousted prime minister who is currently in London in connection with the medical treatment of his wife Kulsoom.

As soon as he came out of the meeting, he was surrounded by reporters who threw a volley of questions at him. However, the PM spoke briefly to the media and avoided a direct answer to political questions.

When asked about allegations being levelled by certain party members regarding a plot against the PML-N, he said, with a smile: “Conspiracies are continuing and there is nothing new about it. Conspiracies shall be dealt with [politically].”

Mr Sharif also spoke to the media separately. When asked about claims of irregularities during the NA-120 by-election, Mr Sharif said he would make a comment later.

PM holds meeting with Nawaz Sharif in London

He was asked whether he thought the irregularities in the by-poll were actually the part of the alleged plot against the PML-N and him. Mr Sharif, however, parried the question and only said that his party was reviewing the situation.

He also chose not to reply a question about the references filed against him and his family members.

In reply to a question, he said his meeting with PM Abbasi focused on national and political issues.

Earlier, Mr Abbasi in an interview to a private news channel said that action would be taken against Mr Sharif if an accountability court issued orders for his arrest. “We have to apply [court order] ..we [will] have no choice.”

The anchorperson asked Mr Abbasi whether his government would implement the directives of the Election Commission of Pakistan to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan. He said the directives would have to be implemented and the officers would have no other options but to comply with them.

To another question, he said there was a need to amend Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution as only the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) could fulfil the requirements of those articles. However, he added, that those articles should be amended only after evolving consensus.

When asked whether Mr Sharif would appear before the accountability court on Sept 19, PM Abbasi said his lawyers had been representing him and the National Accountability Bureau could call him if deemed it necessary.

However, he stressed for opting a single yardstick by NAB and other institutions to handle the cases of Mr Sharif and others.

Responding to a query, he observed that the ousted PM was even stronger than before July 28 — the day when the apex court disqualified him — not only in his party but across the country.

Asked whether he would ask Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to resign as a NAB reference had been filed against him, Mr Abbasi said Mr Dar was only facing allegations and was innocent until proven guilty.

Commenting on a recent Financial Times report that the US was considering stripping Pakistan of its status as an ally because of its perceived failure to tackle terrorism, PM Abbasi warned that the hard-line approach risked backfiring.

In an interview with the Financial Times before flying to New York, he said the US risked undermining its military efforts in Afghanistan, encouraging terrorism and harming its own trade interests if it followed through on the threat to downgrade its relationship with Pakistan.

He said he found Washington’s Pakistan policy “confusing”.

“The signals we get from Washington are confusing, but our message is very clear: we are committed to fighting terror and we will continue to fight terror,” he said. “All it will do [if the US downgrades Pakistan as an ally] is degrade our efforts to fight terror, and I am not sure if that will work for the US.”

According to an APP report, Abbasi told the FT he thought the number of American troops was likely to increase from 8,400 today to 12,000-13,000. But he admitted he found it hard to get clear information from the Trump administration.

“We mostly find these things out by reading them in the newspapers,” he said, adding that the US cooperation was vital for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations.

“Some of our weapons are US-manufactured systems,” he said. “If they get degraded it will harm our ability to fight the terrorists.”

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2017



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