PM ready to share details of Pakistani troop deployment in Saudi Arabia

Also tells Express News direct Senate elections would weed out bad candidates, horse trading

Newsdesk February 22, 2018
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. PHOTO: APP/FILE

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that the role and responsibilities of every institution have been defined in the Constitution.

Speaking to Rehman Azhar, the host of Center Stage on Express News, he said that Pakistani forces are not going to Saudi Arabia to attack anyone, adding that the troops are for training purposes and such deployments have been a regular feature of the last 40 years. When they return, new ones are sent in their place, “sometimes in large numbers and sometimes in small numbers, sometimes trainers of one kind and sometimes trainers of some other kind,” he said.

Details of troops' deployment in Saudi Arabia can't be revealed: Senate told

Contrary to his defence minister’s aversion to giving details about the deployment, he said “We shall provide whatever details the house asks for. The defence minister gave his statement in the Senate, [but] if the house deems it necessary, I can go and give a statement. There is nothing new [about deployments], but an impression was created that thousands of troops are being sent to KSA with plans to attack Yemen.” He said the government has a clear stance that there are no fighting forces in the deployment. “There are only training elements, he reiterated.

On the upcoming senate elections, he said some such parties fielded candidates even though they do not have a single MPA in an assembly. He also noted the number of independent candidates. “A candidate needs two MPAs while many votes are needed to win. How will they be selected? It is not possible unless the votes of a party are manipulated. The only way to make their way to the Senate is purchasing votes.”

He asked how people who become senators this way will represent people. “Can they raise the honour and stature of the Senate? Can they solve the problems of the country? If the reply to these questions is in the negative, it is necessary for me to do whatever I can using my authority, be it legal action or a reprimand in the assembly. I will do all I can because this is shameful.”

PM sanctioned troop deployment to Saudi Arabia for ‘advisory purpose’

He said buying votes is illegal and that it brings a bad name to all politicians when such candidates are elected to the Senate. “Perhaps a better way is to hold direct elections to the Senate. People directly elect them, or seats proportionate to the seats of a party in the assemblies are given so that horse trading ends and dubious people do not get elected to the Senate. Reforms are necessary.”

He said he and the PML-N respect the judiciary. “We respect the chief justice and all the judges. It is not about any particular person or court. It is about the present constitutional system. I had said in the Senate that we need to discuss some things because the courts previously gave judgements that caused billions of dollars of exposure to the Government of Pakistan, which means that today, we owe billions of dollars because of these decisions and we do not have the right to appeal against them.”

He said the courts should also understand what will happen when they give judgments on government matters. “Dialogue should not be through the media, it should be among the institutions. The Senate is a forum that the chief justice and the army chief have visited, but it could be any other forum. The discussion on this issue is the right of the house.” When the representatives of the people speak, they speak for the country, he added.

Pakistani troops have advisory role in Saudi Arabia, confirms PM Abbasi

Court decisions should be implemented otherwise the country’s system will fail to work, he explained. “It is up to the courts as to how they make the decisions. Justice should be seen taking place. It is their responsibility, but unfortunately this does not seem happening,” he said while noting that “It is necessary to point out the mistakes.”