PM speaks his mind

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AS plans for another long march on Islamabad remain intact, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has categorically stated that there was no threat to the incumbent Government and general election would be held as per schedule, which means on completion of the tenure of the present assemblies.

Asked to comment on a proposal about consultations with political leadership and the opposition on appointment of new Army Chief, he posed a question whether the then Prime Minister Imran Khan had consulted the opposition on extending tenure of the incumbent COAS, adding that relevant rules and procedure would be followed when the time comes for making this crucial appointment.

He also announced formation of a high-powered committee to probe thoroughly the audio leaks as this breach of the security was a national issue.

There was a general impression that on return from his successful UN visit, where he also held fruitful bilateral meetings with a number of world leaders, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was firm and confident during his news conference on Tuesday.

Based on the positive response from the world community and International Monetary Fund (IMF) about the provision of necessary cooperation to Pakistan in addressing the challenge thrown by unprecedented floods and the change of head of his economic team, the PM expressed the resolve of his government to continue to make efforts to bring the economy back on track.

He was so clear about policies and directions of the government that he felt no regrets in taking some of the tough decisions that hurt the PML(N) politically, especially in its stronghold of Punjab, where it lost the government after surprising defeat in by-elections in the province.

It is also understandable that the coalition government would not entertain the idea of immediate elections at a time when its popularity was hit by unpopular decisions and it needs time to provide relief to the inflation-ridden masses before going to polls.

The government has also been caught in a difficult situation because of a massive breach of security of the PM Office despite the fact that the audios so far leaked proved nothing illegal and unconstitutional on the part of the chief executive or senior officials of the incumbent government.

As per media reports, initial findings reveal no foreign hand and that no bugging device was unearthed during a thorough search for the purpose.

This being so, there is a possibility of political linkages and an impartial and speedy probe is vital to restore the credibility of the security system.

The Prime Minister is mindful of the fact that the security breach would have implications for meetings of the foreign dignitaries with him because of concerns over leakage of information and, therefore, the investigation should be comprehensive and the findings should be made public as people of Pakistan have a right to know how the core security interests of the country were compromised.

Cyber security rules, laws, SOPs and gadgets will have to be improved in line with the best global practices to avoid recurrence of such fiascos in future, bringing bad name to the country.

As for appointment of the new Army Chief, the Prime Minister has once again hinted that he would not bow down before pressure by some vested interests to change the procedure for selection of the COAS.

Apart from former Prime Minister Imran Khan, no chief executive ever officially consulted any other party, political leader or irrelevant office holder during the process for appointment of an Army Chief and, therefore, there was no logic in making demands that this should be done now.

It is not a political appointment and there is a well-defined procedure, which should be adopted in a transparent manner.

If rules or procedures are to be changed at some point in time, it should be done through Parliament which is the competent forum for the purpose.

The pronouncements made by the Prime Minister during his press conference clearly showed that he has a vision to take Pakistan forward on the path of progress and prosperity and is determined to implement it.

He is also cognizant of the woes and sufferings of the people and expects a change in their condition in months to come.

Propaganda of corruption notwithstanding, the fact remains it was one of the rare incidents that a Prime Minister and his entire entourage met expenses on the UN visit from their own pockets and this should be appreciated by people of Pakistan.

 

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