Press Conference – ATV – 03 February 2013″ With Humayun Akhtar Khan

Today’s time has made us witness multitude of national problems. Unemployment, deteriorating security situation, energy crisis and a non-exhaustive list of problems have engulfed the nation. One thing has brought a ray of hope, and that is the completion of tenure of a civilian government. Unity was seen when parties gave input on issues like the 18th, 19th and the 20th amendments and the government succeeded in bringing people to the negotiation table.

There are insecurities as rumors circulate doubting if the elections will be carried out or not. If some believe that elections will take place they doubt the caretaker government will leave on time. I have been in politics for the past 25 years and have witnessed such situations and have experienced that voicing of insecurities before elections has been a norm. Despite that, elections have always occurred and the democratic process has prevailed.

In my opinion and observation, all the important political entities of Pakistan desire elections to be fair and be held on time. They also disapprove of any notion suggesting prolongation of the caretaker government setup. I believe that there are entities in Pakistan that possess political acumen and are capable of helping the nation prosper.

I strongly believe if any government or party wants to enhance their power, they should understand that changing the constitution would not render them any result. Actual power will only come when they have performed, and brought deliverance. Public needs to see the results that are delivered rather than promises. The situation Pakistan is facing today can only be improved if politicians restore their credibility with the people.

My prediction and my party’s efforts are to make sure that elections are held according to schedule. We will do everything in our capacity to avoid further turbulence in progression of democratic process through elections. We hope there is a peaceful transfer of power and the new elected government brings prosperity for the people.

Today when caretaker government is dubious as there is suspicion of their duration to be prolonged. The same assumption was about Tahir ul Qadri that his tactics were to cause delay in the coming elections, how do you see the situation?

Tahir ul Qadri sahab is very respectful and a religious leader but we’ve noticed that his message has kept on changing. Now they’ve stated they have a commitment with the government that assembly will be dissolved before the 16th. There were reservations that snap elections of 45 days were expected and that caretaker might prolong their duration to three years. It is a positive step from the government that they have agreed on elections to be held on time.

Tahir ul Qadri had initially showed concerns about the election commission but are now of the view that the chief election commissioner is acceptable. Now, he desires to approach courts to assess eligibility of the other members of commission.

Sections 62 and 63 of the 18th amendment have been a part of Pakistan’s constitution since 1985. A clause included in 62 and 63 states that all disparities would have to be proven through court. Any institution or the election commission cannot honor accusations till the allegations have been proved through court of law. It is not possible for the election commission to form new laws for a particular situation.

We have been noticing since past 65 years that all parties come with vows of bringing betterment, but as soon as governments are formed these promises fade, what would you say?

The people should be vigilant enough to learn from the past and not vote for those who have failed to deliver. As far as reforms are concerned, history is witness that majority of the reforms brought about in Pakistan have been in the era of 90s when Nawaz Shareef was in power. I have spent a lot of time with Nawaz Shareef, representing my party and forming the party manifesto. I have spent almost 35 hours working with Nawaz Shareef very closely. The team has managed to make a very precise and practical manifesto, which will be presented to the public soon. I feel that even though nobody is perfect, PML has the potential to bring about a positive change and the action plan devised will materialize development in a short span of time.

The demand of forming new province has been popular debate. Do you think that PPP is rightfully taking a position on this issue or is PML opting for the right approach?

The demand of a new province does not mean that it is an attempt to split the country. The constitution of Pakistan gives power to the people to make demands for a province if need be. The regions facing problems are presenting demands for forming new provinces. We believe that they deserve a fair chance to defend their stance, through debate.

PML N desires to restore Bahawalpur, South Punjab and Hazara province but these issues should not be used for political purposes. The decisions are for a long-term betterment plan of the nation so it should not be decided in accord with elections and gathering of votes.

How much strength does Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf have for the elections?

Every citizen of Pakistan has a right to contest in the elections. Imran Khan has gained fame very rapidly but now his foothold is faltering. International surveys have signaled towards dropping fame of Imran Khan and his party.

Who are the elements that are planning to hinder the process of fair elections? If caretaker government stays for longer than its duration what will your stance be in that case?

The constitution does not allow caretaker setup to prolong its duration more than 90 days. If unconstitutionally this happens we will protest as a responsible entity of this country. I suspect in that case the people will come out in revolt. Any such action will increase the country’s problems.

PML Likeminded had decided to bring together Muslim League Zia, Functional and Awami, what has been done in that regard? Do you intend to bring other Muslim League groups together as well?

Pir Pagara sahab is negotiating with Nawaz Shareef for an alliance. Since now he is not a part of Sindh government so it can be anticipated that he might not allign with PPP again. PML Zia is currently in negotiation with Nawaz Shareef and has our support. Sheikh Rsheed from PML Awami is also a very astute politician and we would like him to become a part of the PML alliance. As far as PML Q is concerned, they are already with PPP so they have decided their side. The important point is that most of the members of PML Q who are now leaving have an inclination towards PPP and not PTI. However, once the assembly is dissolved, the situation will clarify itself.

Was the sit-in by PML inspired by Minhaj ul Quran?

The sit-in is supposed to be just a small signal of unity for the problems being faced by our allies in Sindh.

Some names have been nominated for caretaker government, Chaudhry Nisar who is an ally of PML was a a part of that committee. Could you specify some names mentioned in this regard? President Arbab Ghulam Raheem of Likeminded is in Dubai, now that elections are approaching when do we see him in the picture?

Chudhry Nisar had discussed the candidates with PML Likeminded. He specified six or seven names and we also forwarded some appropriate people like Hussain haroon, Zafar Ali Shah and Shams ul Mulk. The agreement on any specific persons has to be decided yet .

Arbab sahab is planning to come back in a few weeks. As much as he wants to return the condition in interior Sindh is appalling because of which his return is delayed.

In the present situation of Sindh and Karachi where security is a major concern, do you think the government will be able to undertake elections?

All parties are respectable but unfortunately in Karachi the ruling alliance has had issues within their own setup. Taking advantage of this turmoil terrorist organizations and agencies from other countries have managed to intervene. I believe that the government still has the potential to take control of the situation.

Who do you think in the PML alliance will acquire more seats?

150 seats are from Punjab, the recent survey of IRI confirms that PML N will receive majority seats and votes. It is anticipated that in rural Sindh PPP will receive majority seats. In KPK PML are joining forces and the situation looks good for the elections. I hope the coalition of PML N with their alliance will get majority seats.

Since our country has faced corruption in the political arena since a long time do you feel development funds should not be given to parliamentarians, instead local development institutions should deal with them?

In developed democracies institutions are formed on a local level. For development and they function adequately. I myself am in the favor of decentralized system but our country has structural issues. Ideally I agree that this work is not for the MNAs and MPAs to handle.

NA124 and 25 are your strong areas in Lahore why have you then decided to contest from another location?

Lahore is a city I will be obliged to. We negotiated with PML N and felt that our right was not as strong in Lahore as it was of PML Ns candidates. I then decided to try my luck with a rural area.

 Source: Press Conference – ATV – 03 February 2013

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