• SIFC will continue to function despite who’s ruling, caretaker premier reaffirms
• Says state has no involvement in enforced disappearances

KARACHI: Caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has urged political parties not to intertwine security challenges with political matters.

During an interview on Geo News’ show ‘Naya Pakistan’ regarding the timing and equal representation of political parties in the upcoming elections, the prime minister remarked that the criticism they are facing indicates parties’ insecurity about their own campaign strategies.

“We’re not sabotaging anyone. The elections will happen and we will hand over the government to whoever wins. Meanwhile, I’d really like to point out that parties should stop playing ‘victim card’, as security challenges should not be mixed with politics at all. We’ve some challenges related to security that we’re trying to solve, other than that, everything is running smooth,” he said.

As the elections approach, numerous political parties have accused the caretaker authorities of showing favouritism towards the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and not ensuring an equitable playing field for others.

“We’re not playing favourites here. According to me, the caretaker government has good relationships with all the political parties. Most people are using ‘victim card’ to gain votes,” Mr Kakar said.

The host persistently questioned him about his stance on Sarfaraz Bugti’s recent interview, where he mentioned that if he were not a part of the caretaker setup, he would have joined PML-N.

“I am not a spokesperson for Sarfaraz Bugti. He is not reflecting any government policies so I don’t feel the need to defend, explain or forgive anything,” he said.

He also made it clear that PTI would have full liberty to conduct political activities as a part of their election campaign.

“PTI has full freedom to conduct all political activities. The only people who won’t be allowed to take a part in it would be the ones who had involvement in May 9 mayhem,” he said.

‘Good news’

Regarding the economy, he mentioned that the public would receive “positive developments” in the upcoming weeks. He praised the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), emphasising its role in maintaining policy consistency regardless of the ruling party.

“SIFC is a continued step, and all the initiatives it has taken too so far will be continued. It is growing in a raw and smooth way and it is the solution of Pakistan’s economic woes,” he said.

The prime minister, formerly a leader of the Balochistan Awami Party before assuming leadership of the interim government, stated that currently, he has no plans to join any political party. However, he affirmed that once the current setup concludes, he will indeed contemplate the possibility.

‘No state involvement’

Mr Kakar also addressed the issue of missing Baloch students, stating that the government will offer representation at the appropriate platform when feasible. He explained the circumstances of the students’ disappearance and emphasised the government’s ‘purported lack of involvement.’

“State has no hand in these disappearances. Most times, the security forces pick up the people who’re involved in activities which are against the law.

The backlash we’re facing right now because according to Baloch leaders, we’re ‘undertaker’ government not taking enough steps towards release of these people,“ he said, questioning the lack of public outcry when lawyers, doctors, and other respected citizens faced similar threats and violence in the past.

The high court issued summons to the prime minister, concerned caretaker ministers, and the secretaries of interior and defense. This action was prompted by the non-recovery of over 50 missing Baloch students by the specified Wednesday, the day they were instructed to appear in court.

The orders were issued by a single-member bench, presided over by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, following the recommendations of the Baloch Enforced Disappearance Commission.

In a recent interview, Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti expressed concerns about summoning the prime minister, stating that it was not suitable for the court to call the premier for every minor issue.

The prime minister, in today’s interview, supported Mr Bugti’s assertion, highlighting that the count of missing persons in Pakistan is the “lowest in the region,” emphasising it as both an aspect and a reality.

Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2023

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