Parliament best forum for dialogue: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government has never closed the door for talks with the opposition but the best forum for dialogue is the parliament.

“We have not shied away from talks in the past but the best platform for holding dialogue is the parliament,” the premier said on Wednesday while talking to journalists at the Governor House Peshawar during a daylong visit to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an 11-party opposition alliance that was formed in September with the avowed aim to dislodge the PTI led federal government – has recently concluded the first phase of its anti-government campaign after holding six rallies in all four provinces.

The PDM has now announced that all lawmakers from the opposition parties would submit their resignations from the assembly seats to their respective party leadership by December 31. It has also set a deadline for the government to quit by January 31.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi – in his capacity as the PTI vice chairman – categorically rejected on Tuesday the PDM’s demand but asked it to fulfill its commitment to resign from assemblies.

Talking with reference to the PDM’s ultimatum, the premier said there is no threat to his government and that he is not under any pressure due to the PDM’s campaign.

“The entire nation saw how worried I was when the opposition was holding a rally in Lahore on Sunday,” Imran Khan said apparently referring to a picture in which he was seen tending his pet dogs on the day of the Lahore protest.

He said he had predicted that all “thieves” would gang up when he would start his rule. The premier reiterated his claim that the opposition wanted an NRO – reprieve – through its protest campaign.

“Now they ask when they sought an NRO. They sought a 34-page written NRO when they proposed changes in the National Accountability Ordinance [a law that governs NAB, the top graft buster].

“Adopting the changes that the opposition proposed in accountability law was like demolishing NAB. The opposition wants to close down NAB but we cannot do that.”

He said the people who embezzled millions of rupees or even lesser amounts are languishing in jails and some of them have even died during incarceration. “However, bigger thieves who embezzled billions of rupees are enjoying their lives.”

The premier said corruption cases against the opposition leaders were not filed by the PTI government rather they date back to eras of the past governments.

Imran Khan claimed that his party could hold even bigger rallies than those organized by the PDM but it would not do that because it cared for people and did not want to spread coronavirus disease.

Senate polls

PM Imran hinted at early holding of the Senate polls, saying the government is also thinking about approaching the Supreme Court for conducting the election through show of hands rather than secret ballot, a method used in the previous polls of the upper house.

“Consultations are underway over the legal aspects as the government believes in transparent and fair elections. Horse-trading in the Senate elections has been very easy for the governments in the past, but I expelled 20 provincial assembly members from the PTI over their alleged involvement in the practice.”

Inaugurating Rs14.067 billion worth Pakistan Housing Authority (PHA) project in Nowshera, the PM said provision of houses to poor and middle class segments is among the priorities of the present government and housing projects are being launched across the country.

The prime minister also distributed the ownership documents among the recipients of flats. Earlier, Imran Khan received a detailed briefing on the project by the Provincial Housing Authority officials.

He was told that the housing project consisted of 8,631 plots of 5, 7, 10 and 20 marlas and government employees as well as the general public could get them. The project will have basic facilities including schools, parks, hospital, mosques, water, gas, electricity, sewerage etc.

The prime minister was informed that housing projects will also be launched in other cities of the K-P including Peshawar, Mardan, Swat, Charsadda and Hangu. A total of 30,788 housing units would be completed within the next six months.


(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)