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Row over NRO to end soon: PM

August 31, 2012

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf chairing the PPP parliamentary party meeting at Prime Minister's House. INP PHOTO
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf . INP File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has expressed the hope that the controversy over implementation of Supreme Court’s NRO verdict will soon be over.In his first interview as prime minister with PTV on Friday, he said the issue had caused uncertainty in the country and adversely affected economy, prospects of investment and several other spheres.

He said he had been the chief executive only for a little over two months and wanted the matter to be sorted out amicably and the judges too were trying for it.

He said he was hopeful about a positive outcome when asked what would happen on Sept 18, the next date of hearing, but gave no hint if a letter would be written to the Swiss authorities to reopen the graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

Answering a question, he said he was ready for talks on holding general elections two or three months ahead of the schedule but pointed out at the same time that completion of the government’s term would help strengthen democracy.

This will result in a polished system which will be of benefit to the coming government and send a positive message to democratic forces. He said the system would gain strength if three governments in a row completed their terms.

He said the modality for formation of an interim government was enshrined in the Constitution and the government and the opposition would reach a consensus the way they did for the appointment of the chief election commissioner.He said if the decision could not be taken in the first phase, the CEC would form the interim government.

He said his priority number one was to hold free, fair and transparent elections, leaving no room for anyone to point finger of suspicion.

It is for the people to decide through the power of ballot who should form the government.

About creation of new provinces, he said a longstanding demand coming from Southern Punjab was under consideration. He said everything must not be politicised.

The prime minister said Pakistan was facing a number of challenges but a direction had been set and things were improving.

Balochistan, terrorism and economic pressure, he said, were the main challenges, besides the energy crisis and efforts were under way to address them.

He said the law and order situation had improved during the PPP rule.

He refused to rule out involvement of foreign hand in violence in Balochistan and other parts of the country.

He observed that 97 per cent of Balochistan people were peaceful and patriotic and there were only a handful who wanted unrest.

He said he believed in dialogue and was ready for talks with everyone to help bring peace back in the province.

The prime minister said a dictator had defaced the Constitution during the previous military rule and restoring it to its original form was a major achievement of the government.

He termed the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) a major step to alleviate poverty and said even the critics had praised it as a transparent programme. Seven million people are getting subsistence through the programme. He said he desired to increase the allocation for the programme to Rs150-200 billion.

The prime minister said the foreign policy was home-grown and rejected a perception that decisions were taken somewhere else.

He said input was taken from other institutions which were part of the government.