Federal Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb on Saturday made it clear that general elections would be held on their scheduled time and the unity government would complete its tenure.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Marriyum, who was also part of the PML-N leaders who conferred with Nawaz, said, “We had to make decisions [in the meetings] with collective wisdom so there were long consultations and the strategic plan [devised] will be presented by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in an address to the nation.”
She said the premier had to visit the UAE on a short notice for condolences on the death of former Emirati president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. “He will very soon tell the nation about the entire strategy and announcements,” the she said.
The minister said the prime minister would consult his allied political parties on the strategy and all decisions before making his address. She downplayed the nature of the London visit, insisting that it was a “private PML-N visit” that had been due since before PM Shehbaz came into power.
She said there were “long [and] detailed” sessions held on how to reduce the burden of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s economic decisions on the people.
When questioned about the possibility of early elections, she said the present set-up was a coalition government so the decision was for all allied political parties to make. “At this time, it is being strategised that how the burden of inflation could be reduced and how to bring confidence back into the economy,” the she said.
Marriyum said the events surrounding the no-confidence vote were also discussed in the London meetings, adding that a decision was made to “deal with any element that violates the law or constitution”. Questioned on Imran’s recent statements regarding the “neutrals” and how they did not opt to thwart the “foreign conspiracy” against him, the information minister said the right to freedom of speech did not cover remarks against institutions or hate speech and anyone doing so would be proceeded against according to law.
“When you attack state institutions then there will be legal action against you and this is the government’s responsibility, which it knows how to carry out,” she said. She said Imran Khan was in no position to ask questions on economy to a government that came into power weeks ago, because it was time for Imran to answer for the economic disasters, crises, and turmoil he inflicted upon Pakistan.
She said the youth of Pakistan must remember that Imran was the one who snatched away jobs and livelihoods from 6 million people. “They must remember the plethora of lies by Imran. They must remember that Imran left the dollar at Rs189; they must remember that Imran gave an unapproved, unfunded subsidy on petrol prices without the approval of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). Electricity was at Rs11 per unit, but when Imran left it was Rs24 per unit, while the previous government did not add a single megawatt to the national grid.”
She said load shedding was a result of the fact that Imran did not arrange fuel for the power plants. “And on top of this the worst damage Imran inflicted upon Pakistan was social degeneration where he introduced cussing, abuse, indecency and hooliganism as an essential part of Pakistan’s politics,” she lamented. “This economic turmoil would be fixed… but this social degeneration would take a lot more time and a lot more effort,” she said.
The information minister said Imran considered himself above the constitution and law of Pakistan. “He blatantly flouts all rules and violates all legal bindings with contempt. And now he is using government helicopter to fly to his public meetings to abuse, cuss at and defile the national institutions of Pakistan with his venomous false allegations. Under what capacity was Imran using the helicopter of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when he does not hold any government office or post that merits such facilitation?” she questioned.
She said Imran had become so ruthless in his draconian and autocratic designs that he blatantly admitted that he used the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as an instrument of his political victimisation.
The helicopter case, the Mallam Jabba case, and others were still fresh in the memory of the nation, she said. She said this entire façade of rebellion was just because Imran wanted to get back in power where he was having the time of his life, making billions through his front persons, while throwing his political opponents behind bars for nothing, arm-twisting media houses to force censorship, and getting journalists shot and abducted who refused to bow down to his commands.
She said that in desperation to accuse the government of obstructing his public meetings, the former premier tried to illegally occupy the ground of Christian community, which they had objected to and protested over.