PM says, no solid reason yet to justify polls delay; assures fairness

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ISLAMABAD (APP): Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Monday said that no solid reason had yet come to the fore to justify a delay in the general elections, assuring that the government was committed to holding polls as freely and fairly as possible.

The prime minister, in an interview with a newly launched television channel (Aik News) said the candidates were canvassing and all the rumours would fall to rest by the evening of February 8 – the date for general elections in the country.

Regarding the usual complaints of rigging before or after the elections, he said that learning lessons from the past, the parliament needed to address all the flaws regarding the laws, administration, or the Election Commission.

He said the observers would monitor and local and international media would report on the activity, assuring that as per the standards in the region, the elections would by and large be free and fair.

He observed that the political parties were also involved in the poll rigging by making fake ID cards and casting the votes of deceased persons.

He said voting time would be from 9 am to 5 pm on February 8 and everyone should use his constitutional right to vote to ensure a good turnout.

Emphasising the key focus on the improvement of the national economy, he said unfortunately no political party had yet come up with an agenda to boost the country’s economic health. He said all the electoral claims made by the parties including jobs, shelters, cheap electricity, food security, and others were directly related to a stable economy.

He said the political parties needed to come up with a plan for revenue generation and widen the tax net.

Exemplifying a 91% tax-to-GDP ratio in the Scandinavian countries, he said Pakistan’s ratio stood at just 9%, adding that enhanced taxation would also make the government accountable to the masses.

Responding to a question about his foreign visits, he recalled that soon after assuming the office, he attended the UN General Assembly session – “a forum which cannot be ignored” and later interactions in Europe where he had a stopover for plane refuelling. He also mentioned attending the BRI Forum in China, the ECO Summit, and the COP28 session where he got the opportunity to interact with world leaders and sign bilateral agreements.

He explained that the caretaker government had to play a role to run day-to-day affairs, including foreign policy matters.

About the repatriation of illegal foreign nationals, he said Pakistan had expelled only those with no identity and record and that such individuals would be allowed to return after obtaining valid passports and visas.

Discussing social media, he called it a challenge that empowered individuals irrespective of their educational and mental capability and advocated for its regulation like the mainstream media.

He said the criticism of the caretaker government for doing things beyond the mandate was not genuine as all of its actions were legitimate and vetted by the Law Division besides the backing of cabinet’s approval.

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