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Free, fair polls only way out, says PM

August 07, 2012


Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Monday that the only way forward now was free and fair elections in the country.

Talking to journalists at an Iftar-dinner hosted by him, Mr Ashraf said: “The media and judiciary have become independent and now it is time to give the same status to parliament. I strongly believe that the next general election to be held under a fully independent election commission will strengthen democracy.”

Without making any direct reference to the ongoing executive-judiciary clash, the prime minister said: “Only the people of Pakistan have the right to elect a government; so let them have a government of their own choice.”

He said that with the appointment of the new chief election commissioner with an impeccable track record nobody would be able to question the veracity of election results.

During his brief speech, the prime minister repeatedly talked about elections which, he said, were not far away. But he didn’t say if the government had decided to go for early elections.

He said it was a top priority of his government to hold the next elections under the best possible circumstances.

Defending the PPP for upholding high democratic standards, Mr Ashraf said it was the beauty of democracy that a political worker and a representative of the middle class like him had become prime minister of the country.

To the chagrin of media personnel who were expecting a hard-hitting political speech, the prime minister didn’t touch any controversial subject and not say a word about the response he is required to submit to the Supreme Court on Wednesday in the NRO implementation case. This was his first scheduled interaction with the media since he took over as prime minister on June 22.

He talked about peaceful coexistence among state institutions. “Be it the army, the judiciary or the government of the day, it is the country we all have to work for and defend,” he said.

The main topic of discussion in the country today is the upcoming NRO case hearing, the prime minister’s response and judges’ reaction.

A senior journalist is of the opinion that the apex court may not send another elected prime minister home.

Sacking another prime minister, he said, would only benefit the ruling PPP this time and, therefore, the court might take some other route to press ahead with its demand for writing a letter to the Swiss authorities to reopen money-laundering cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

But others were of the opinion that the Supreme Court might not be in a position to treat Mr Ashraf differently from Yousuf Raza Gilani who had been disqualified for not writing the letter and sent packing.