Elections to be held on time, new army chief appointment next month: Asif

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Federal Defence Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif has said that general election will be held in the country on time, and the appointment of the new army chief will be done the next month, according to the Constitution and law. Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, he said that Pakistan had been removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) gray list and now the country would be treated like other countries of the world globally.

He said that the Pakistan Army played key role in removal of the country from the FATF gray list. Kh Asif said that no talks or backdoor contacts were under way between the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Those were just rumours and propaganda on the part of the PTI, he added. The minister said the PTI and Imran Khan were spreading those rumours so that the general elections could be held in March-April. However, he added, the general election in the country would be held after completion of constitutional term of the current National Assembly.

The federal minister said that four months ago, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had formed a committee to look into the Toshakhana issue and assigned him [Kh Asif] the responsibility, along with other ministers. He said the committee forwarded its recommendations to the prime minister, recommending that the gifts in the Toshakhana would be property of the state, and no government representative would be able to take them. “If the government wants, the gifts should be auctioned or given to an institution,” he added. Kh Asif said that PM Shehbaz Sharif had closed the doors on those who take gifts from Toshakhana, and the gifts received by the prime minister during the last 6-7 months were safe now.

“These gifts with the names of the countries and their officials are present in the showcases in the Prime Minister’s House, which journalists can see anytime,” he added. The minister said former prime minister Imran Khan wanted to target the opposition, but now he had been exposed before the nation. That was the reason that people did not come out on Friday despite a protest call given by the party, he added. He claimed that around 30,000-32,000 people from all over the country came out for protest on Friday.

The defence minister said that the fake story of ‘real freedom’ had been exposed. He said that the PTI and Imran Khan’s narrative of “real freedom” and “imported government” had been rejected by the people of Pakistan. Kh Asif said that in the coming days, manipulations would start in the PTI due to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decision against Imran Khan. Replying to a question, Kh Asif said that Constitution and institutions were the red lines and those should not be attacked by Imran Khan.

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