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PM optimistic about political, economic stability after Feb 8 general election

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DAVOS, Jan 17 (APP):Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Wednesday expressed confidence that a stable government would be formed after forthcoming general elections, scheduled for February 8, eventually leading to sustainable economic stability in the country.

“I do see and project that there will be great growth in Pakistan. There will be a sense of stability. The growth will be slow but it will be sustainable,” the prime minister said in an interview with CNBC on the sidelines of the 54th annual meeting of World Economic Forum (WEF).

He said that the speculations regarding holding the elections, had been addressed and everyone was certain about the election date of 8th of February.

PM Kakar said it was the top priority of the caretaker setup to bring economic revival and to focus on growth and other economic indicators. He said the next government had to follow a clear principle of spending less and earning more to achieve economic stability.

“We need to bring back the non-documented economy into the documented economy and transform our state to a more viable economic entity,” he added.

He highlighted that the caretaker government would publish a white paper on its 4-5 months performance. “We did introduce and revamp the programme within taxation system, we brought structural changes that would be passed through the Cabinet formerly by the end of the month, after that it would be in place as policy.”

Further, he said the caretaker government opted for aggressive privatization, it cut its expenditures at the federal level and it was also carrying out talks with the provinces so they could rationalize their expenditures.

As regards delay in elections, the prime minister said the country faced legal and technical challenges related to the electoral procedures and processes. However, he said those challenges had been addressed now and the people of Pakistan would be given the opportunity to exercise their constitutional right of electing the leadership for the next five years.

To a question about former PTI Chairman, PM Kakar said he was not in prison on account of his political opinion but due to his purported role for inciting riots and encouraging his followers towards disruption.

He said the people who had been involved in the riots were behind bars. “It is not that the innocent people have been picked up for their political opinions and they have been denied a political role.”

The prime minister pointed out that the former PTI Chairman had the right to say that he was jailed because of his political opinion but let the court decide the issue. He said the matter would not be decided by any individual, media or any other group but the courts would address these points.

To a question about free and fair elections, PM Kakar said prior to holding elections, no one could question the fairness of the process. “Let the election happen as there will be international observers, the international media and other watchdogs to report whether the elections were held in the free and fair manner or not.”

As regards the media freedom in Pakistan, the prime minister said even the Western media was under more strict regulations than that of Pakistan.

With regard to the regional issues, he said Pakistan did foresee that there would be implications for the country after the withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan and that was why Pakistan had been advocating for a responsible withdrawal.

The focus of world powers was no more Afghanistan as now it was an abandoned project for them. “But for us it had a real-time tangible implications particularly when the gadgets which were given to the Afghan Republic Army were sold in the black market. He feared that it might also have implications in the Middle East.

The prime minister said Pakistan needed to enhance its capacity of counter-terrorism. “We also need to encourage that Pakistan can become a viable economic entity and a viable democracy at the same time.”

He said Pakistan’s role should also be acknowledged and appreciated.

To a question about Pakistan’s relations with China, the prime minister said the two countries had very close relations, both strategically and historically.

He said the bilateral relations with China would not be affected, no matter what happens in the region.

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