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Need to elect consensus Senate chairman: PM

Updated March 25, 2018

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PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi points to a particular area of the newly-built Rai Mansab Ali Khan Kharal Bridge during a briefing on the project.—APP
PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi points to a particular area of the newly-built Rai Mansab Ali Khan Kharal Bridge during a briefing on the project.—APP

NANKANA SAHIB/ LAHORE: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday expressed concern over the election of the Senate chairman and said there was need to elect a consensus chairman of the upper house of parliament, as it reflected the federation.

While claiming that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz always defended democratic norms, Mr Abbasi reiterated the allegation of horse-trading in the Senate elections earlier this month and alleged that votes were ‘purchased’.

Whether the country could earn respect through such tactics, the prime minister questioned, insisting that such an election did not enjoy any respect.

Abbasi says votes were purchased in recent elections of upper house of parliament

He said the government worked despite all odds and challenges. Legal cases, including the one about the Panama Papers, eventually brought instability to the country otherwise it would have been on the path of rapid progress, he claimed, calling upon voters to understand the significance of those happenings. He said the PML-N government tackled all these ploys in order to solve public problems.

He disclosed that several opportunities had emerged in the past but the PML-N stood steadfast to democratic norms and did not make compromises like the National Reconciliation Ordinance. In the past, the PML-N government had been ousted but this time its president was removed through legal cases, he said.

The politics of PML-N leaders revolved around resolution of public issues instead of stuffing their pockets with money, he said. However, he asked the party opponents to prove their sincerity to the masses.

The prime minister exp­ressed the hope that the masses would give a clear decision in the general election in July this year by keeping these issues in view.

About energy crisis, Mr Abbasi said there was no loadshedding in the country. Only the areas with power theft had to endure it, he said, adding that 85 per cent consumers paying their bills could not be burdened for the pilferage by others. Earlier in winter, he said, the gas supply continued uninterrupted to domestic consumers, CNG sector and industry.

Meanwhile, the prime minister who was accompanied by Punjab Governor Rafique Rajwana and State Minister for Power Abid Sher Ali inaugurated 612-metre-long Rai Mansab Ali Khan Kharal Bridge.

The prime minister lauded the performance of the ruling party president and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. However, he said, it was strange that the persons who had delivered were “punished and engaged in litigation” — a reference to the ongoing corruption inquiries against Mr Sharif and his children in the Panama case.

‘Dragged into courts’

Mr Abbasi also used an event in Lahore, which was organised by a private company to inaugurate a cable manufacturing facility and aluminium alloy plant, to discuss the achievements of PML-N government and the corruption cases against his predecessor who is also his party’s supreme leader.

“Sadly, those who work are insulted and dragged into courts,” he said.

The prime minister, however, trashed the talk of ‘judicial coup’ or martial law and announced that change (in the government) would come only through ballot. “Voters alone will decide who should form the next government in the July elections,” he reiterated.

Mr Abbasi, a businessman himself, said his government was working on a tax incentive package to attract investment in the industry. He did not elaborate but said it would be ready before the next budget.

“After making energy available to the industry, we are now moving ahead to cut the cost of doing business for the manufacturers. It is the job of the government to facilitate the industry… we will do so by implementing a combination of policies because the government does not have resources to give handouts. We are making policies that will strike a balance between our short-term interests (revenues) and long-term interests (economic growth).”

The prime minister also called upon the business community to adopt best international practices and become efficient to produce quality goods to make a place for themselves in the international markets.

“We have enormous potential to increase our exports… but we haven’t been able to take advantage of this potential. The Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), concluded by the previous governments, created problems because our exports haven’t been able to compete in the global markets because of poor quality,” Mr Abbasi said.

The prime minister said the government added 10,400 megawatts of efficient and clean power generation to the system during the past five years. He further claimed that the government had launched power projects that would take care of the country’s electricity requirements for the next 15 years besides importing gas to end the fuel’s growing shortages and make energy available to the industry (in Punjab) round the clock.

“The next challenge for us is to reduce the distribution losses — technical losses as well as power theft,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2018