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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Interior and Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, who had aired doubts about the Senate elections two months ago, on Thursday turned optimist about timely holding of the general election and completion of the second consecutive term of parliament despite ‘conspiracies’ and destabilising efforts that cost the nation dearly.

“Last five years were very eventful. This is the second time that parliament is completing its constitutional tenure and ensuring continuity of political process despite continuous efforts to derail that were foiled with political maturity,” said the minister at a media briefing.

He had stated on Jan 5 that no one could predict whether the Senate elections would be held on time or not.

Responding to a question that a special court had criticised the government for not producing Pervez Musharraf despite permanent warrants, Mr Iqbal said the former dictator had gone abroad after court permission and he would be happy to bring him back if the court so ordered.

“We will welcome such an order and the court would not find us wanting,” he said.

Minister lists achievements of PML-N government

In reply to a question about external allegations of extremism and terrorism, he said it was not an easy task to undo a backlog of 25-30 years in religious extremism in two-three years, but it was also clear that Pakistan could not put its house on fire at the cost of bringing peace to the region, even though it was a great believer in regional peace and security.

The minister said the PML-N government was honoured to have met expectations of the people with tangible successes like ending 20 hours of crippling loadshedding in a shortest possible time and transforming the terrorism-hit country into a peaceful destination for foreign direct investment.

Mr Iqbal said the national economy had achieved highest 5.3 per cent growth rate in 10 years that struggled at an average of 3pc and was now expanding instead of facing a squeeze even though a brigade of naysayer continued with an organised campaign to attack political system and public leaders.

He said it was a great achievement of the government to have controlled and transformed tens of white elephant development projects into success stories and saved more than Rs700 billion through rationalisation of project costs and designs.

The minister said the PML-N government focused on infrastructure development and set the stage for a modern logistic corridor. “CPEC in itself is a success story that attracted one of the highest investments in such a short span anywhere in the world” and the world was now interested to be part of the CPEC because of turnaround in Pakistan’s image as investment destination and rising economy.

Responding to a question, Mr Iqbal said the recent inclusion of Pakistan into grey list of the Financial Action Task Force was unjustified and had a political background otherwise parliaments of all those European nations endorsed Pakistan’s point of view and extended GSP-Plus status. He said Pakistan was in full compliance of the 1267 resolution of the UN Security Council and there was no option but to take action against entities listed by the UN.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2018