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Pak PM seeks national debate on civil-military ties, role of judiciary

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ISLAMABAD, May 29: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday called for a national debate on future civil-military relations, the role of the judiciary, accountability and other state institutions for the country to move forward as he presented a departing overview of the PML-N government’s five-year performance.

Speaking at a news conference along with Finance Minister Dr Miftah Ismail, the prime minister said the issue of civil-military relations would remain there irrespective of who formed the next government, besides the role of other stakeholders like the judiciary, the National Accountability Bureau and the media.

He said that when the judiciary interfered in the working of the executive and NAB crippled the government functioning, no government would be able to work and perform. Therefore, he added, there should be a national dialogue on what should be the role of the judiciary and NAB when the next government came to power.

“Who should be held responsible if a judicial decision has an impact of thousands of billions of rupees, and who should be held answerable if NAB cripples the government departments and no government functionary is ready to take decisions?” he asked and said the debate should discuss on what extent this should go.

“There should also be a national dialogue on civil-military relationship,” he said in response to a question, adding that countries could not be run like this and governments could not perform.

Abbasi said the people voted his party to government five years ago. And “we have respected the vote with performance”, he said when asked if the PML-N’s election slogan would be Nawaz Sharif’s ‘give respect to vote’ narrative or the performance of the government.

He said the political instability had devastating impact on the country and the performance of the government and counted the 2014 sit-in, the Panama Papers case verdict and the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgement removing former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as a few events that gradually hampered the progress, otherwise the situation would have been much better and financial losses would have been limited.

Responding to a question about a statement attributed to the secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan which suspected elections being held within two months, the prime minister said he was unaware of the statement but in line with a summary of the ECP, the government had sent an advice to the president for election date. “Elections would be held on July 25 and the ECP would announce the election schedule. The law is very clear,” he added.

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