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Abbasi shrugs off bid to form alliance against PML-N

Updated December 10, 2017

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PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addresses the gathering at the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday.—INP
PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addresses the gathering at the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday.—INP

JHANG: Celebrating the opening of a new power plant, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday laughed off attempts by the opposition to form an alliance against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz as nothing more than hot air.

“When you add zero to zero, you get zero as the answer,” the PM said in a pointed reference to the ongoing activities at the Model Town residence of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri.

A string of politicians, including PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari, have turned up at Allama Qadri’s residence since the report by a one-man tribunal on the Model Town killing of PAT workers in June 2014 was made public earlier this week.

PM, CM Shahbaz open 1,263MW power plant

Mr Abbasi chose to focus on development project as he addressed a gathering after the groundbreaking ceremony of the second RLNG-based 1,263-megawatt power plant. The plant is financed by Punjab from its own resources at Haveli Bahadur Shah near Jhang city.

“Forging new alliances [at this moment] is useless,” he said. “The general election will be held on time in August [next year] only after the completion of the PML-N’s term in June. It is the people who will decide who they want to elect.”

Visibly agitated over PPP leader Asif Zardari’s visit to the PAT office in Lahore earlier this week, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took it upon himself to target the former president. Mr Sharif accused Mr Zardari of stealing public money during the last PPP stint in power.

Instead of solving the problems of people and ending long hours of blackouts, he added, Mr Zardari used his position to make money and stash billions of rupees out of Pakistan in Swiss banks.

The chief minister didn’t spare the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) either for launching an investigation into 56 non-profit companies created by him over the years to undertake projects in different economic and social sectors.

“I have no illusions about the new NAB chairman,” he said. “I am not asking him to stop investigating the companies. If I have done some wrong I should be held accountable for it.

“I don’t want any credit for what I have done for the people in the 12 years of my three terms as chief executive of the province. But NAB should also bring those to justice who have looted this country and people with impunity.”

The inauguration of the fourth RLNG-based power plant in the province — two each financed by the federal and Punjab governments — was one in a series of events that provided the PML-N government an opportunity to highlight the positives achieved during its current term in the build-up to the election next year.

In recent days, the PML-N has been boasting about its achievements of ‘overcoming’ the energy crisis before time. The Supreme Court’s decision to set aside a Lahore High Court order halting work on the $1.65 billion Lahore Orange Line Metro Train project, too, has come as a boost for the government.

The prime minister said the opponents of the PML-N government were running away from the elections. “It appears as if the PML-N is the only party which wants elections on time,” he said.

“The opposition, including PPP and PTI [Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf], kept itself away from the Senate when the constitutional amendment bill to initiate delimitation of constituencies in the wake of results of new population census was tabled in the upper house. This despite the fact that all parties had unanimously adopted the bill in the National Assembly. Why are they now distancing themselves from the bill in the Senate?”

Urging the opposition to help the government pass the amendment bill to ensure organisation of elections on time, Mr Abbasi argued that it was high time all political parties worked together to advance the cause of democracy in the country.

“The delay in the elections will create anarchy and afford the powers-that-be to bring back the same forces that ruled the country between 1999 and 2008. (But) if the political parties want to ambush democracy today, no one can do anything.”

He said neither the ‘technocrats’ who ruled the country under Gen Pervez Musharraf nor those who returned to power because of the National Reconciliation Ordinance with the military dictator [the PPP] could solve the problems facing the country.

“In four years our government has not only eliminated blackouts from the country but created surplus electricity that will be sufficient to meet our needs till 2030. Only a government that enjoys public trust can solve the problems.”

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2017