Islamabad won’t be shut, says PM Nawaz Sharif

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BAKU: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said Islamabad will not be shut on October 30 despite the PTI’s call to shut down the city.

Talking here informally with media persons accompanying him during the three-day visit of Azerbaijan at breakfast on Saturday, Nawaz Sharif vowed to take the country on the path of progress and prosperity despite “certain elements’ plans to shut the country”. He said some elements wanted to impede progress and development in the country by staging protests, which will not be allowed.

To a question about the PTI chief Imran Khan’s threat to lock down Islamabad on the 30th of this month, Nawaz said, “Our agenda is to keep the country and Islamabad open while he wants to close down the country and the capital. I don’t wish to waste my time on offering comments about it.”

To another question, the premier said he wouldn’t approve summary for enhancing gas tariff to 35 percent.

He said India has been escaping from dialogue on Kashmir which is the core dispute between two nuclear neighbours of South Asia.

“No progress for peace would be possible without resolving this dispute and the only solution lies in talks. Pakistan is prepared to enter into a dialogue with India provided it is ready to talk on the Kashmir dispute with sincerity and seriousness,” the prime minister said.

The prime minister said Pakistan had offered holding of talks on outstanding issues several times but India did not reciprocate. He said Kashmir is the main cause of unrest in the region and India must show seriousness for resolution of the issue and honour its commitment under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions as Pakistan is committed to peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute. The prime minister regretted that India blamed Pakistan for the Uri attack in haste when the smoke was still emanating from the debris. He said the attack came from within and none crossed over from Pakistan to undertake the attack.

“When you have martyred more than 112 people, blinded more than 200 innocents, including women and children, and injured and arrested thousands of people, you should expect reaction,” the premier said. He warned India that the cause of Kashmir had been picked by Indian youth and it wouldn’t be possible for it to control it.

Turning to domestic scene, the prime minister said the government had introduced a new culture of political tolerance in the country as they respect the mandate of every party. He said the PPP formed the government in Sindh and the PML-N respected it. “Similarly, we have respected the MQM as an opposition party. Even when unethical language was used in KP we also respected the public mandate there. Unlike the 70s, we didn’t dismiss the provincial government and tried to form the government of our choice in KP or Balochistan,” he added.

About the pace of work on the projects of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the prime minister said work on the project was moving ahead and its pace was faster than the projects executed in China. He said the Chinese are also pleasantly surprised about the fast pace of work, saying that this speed wasn’t achieved in China.

He agreed that in a project for power generation, a US company has failed in providing turbines according to its commitment but the government will make up for the deficiency. He said the Neelum-Jhelum Project would be started by 2018. He said the government was determined to provide the consumers cheaper electricity as it had already reduced the tariff. He said for the first time in the history of the country, coal has been excavated and will be used for production of cheaper electricity. He recalled that electricity was being produced at the cost of Rs24/25 per unit but now the cost has been lowered to Rs14 per unit. He said the system will have 35,000 megawatts electricity in the national grid that will cater to the long term needs of the country, but 10,000 megawatts electricity would be given to the national grid by 2018 and it would eliminate loadshedding.

The prime minister made it clear that no change would be made in the CPEC route since it would be equally beneficial for the whole country. He said Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal was being asked to dispel misperception, if someone had any, in this regard.

To a query, Nawaz Sharif said that Saarc is an important forum but India scuttled its summit. He said the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) is working well and making good progress.

Later, addressing the leader of the Azerbaijan Parliament and Speaker/Chairman Ogtay Asadov at the Parliament House, Nawaz Sharif said that India intentionally heated the Line of Control (LoC) to divert the world attention from grave human rights violations in the Indian Held Kashmir (IHK).

The prime minister said Pakistan values Azerbaijan’s support for the Kashmir cause. He said the two countries’ mutual support on Kashmir and Nagorno Karabakh reflects strong bilateral relationship. “Democracy is functional in both the countries and inter-parliamentary and leadership level exchanges of visits will enhance cooperation in economic, defence and other sectors,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, the Azerbaijan Parliament speaker expressed confidence that the prime minister’s visit will help promote bilateral relationship. He also briefed the prime minister on the proceedings of the parliament.

Nawaz also visited the martyrs’ monument Fakhri Khiyaban in Baku to pay tribute to those who laid their lives for the freedom of Azerbaijan. He also laid a wreath on the monument. He also visited the tomb of architect of modern Azerbaijan late Haider Aleyov and offered Fateha.

— Originally published in The News

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