Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday signalled his willingness to listen intently to the opposition and address their grievances whenever they agree to sit with him either before or after their proposed long march.
The remarks were made by the prime minister in an interview with Radio Pakistan.
At the same time, the premier regretted that certain elements were trying to create lawlessness and spread violence by following the path of agitation. Yet, he said, the government does not feel threatened by any protest or long march.
Political problems, according to PM Nawaz, can only be resolved through dialogue and understanding, and not through protests and marches. He claimed that the public was aware of the ‘harmful designs’ of certain quarters and the government would never let them succeed.
The premier added that the judiciary and other institutions, which have been working independently to address the complaints of the opposition, should be trusted.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid laid all responsibility for maintaining peace during protest rallies on August 14 at the door of those protesting. Speaking to reporters at a flag hoisting ceremony in connection with Independence Day celebrations on Sunday, he asserted that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would face mutiny if it forced its lawmakers to resign from the assemblies.
“Imran Khan’s call for resignations from assemblies will lead to a mutiny within his party if the decision is imposed on its members,” he said in response to news reports that PTI would consider resigning from parliament if its demands were not met by the government.
Sen Rashid sought an assurance from the PTI chief that his August 14 rally would be peaceful. He said that Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain would be responsible themselves for maintaining peace during their upcoming rallies. The minister added that though the PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) had not announced their demands the government was ready to face them.
Though it was a flag hoisting ceremony, a PML-N official said that the venue – Hanif Abbasi’s residence in Rawalpindi – had been selected to organise party workers ahead of PTI’s long march on August 14. Abbasi lost the constituency to the PTI chief during the 2013 general elections.
Talking about the twin protest rallies, Rashid said that the troika comprising Imran, Qadri and Shujaat had all supported Musharraf’s referendum and they had once again banded together to derail democracy.
Commenting on Qadri’s claims at the latest press conference that the PML-N governments in Punjab and the centre would be ousted by August, the information minister said these statements were devoid of substance. “Qadri has not mentioned in which year the PML-N government would be ousted,” he added.
Recalling the independence struggle of 1947 and paying tribute to those who laid down their lives for the creation of Pakistan, Rashid said that Muslim League members fought for Pakistan under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and they will make Pakistan a better place under the guidance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Our forefathers had taken part in the freedom struggle and we will not let those sacrifices go to waste,” he added.
Highlighting his party’s development projects, the minister said, “This is not the old Pakistan where the divide between the rich and poor runs deep; today, people enjoy luxuries similar to the privileged class.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th,2014.