General

Nawaz ready to go to prison for principles: PM Abbasi

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Sunday said that Nawaz Sharif was ready to go to prison for the sake of principles, adding that he did not expect the former premier to be served justice by the NAB court.
He said the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s narrative was of ‘giving respect to vote’ and ‘performance’.
Ousted from the PM Office by the Supreme Court in July 2017, Nawaz has been rigorously campaigning with the slogan ‘give respect to vote’, while at the same time facing corruption references filed against him and his family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The prime minister expressed hope that a consensus on the name for caretaker PM would be reached with Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah by Monday.
He said that unfortunately, a consensus could not be reached so far, adding, “Peoples Party stresses that a name it proposed should be agreed on for the caretaker PM’s post; we stress on the name we proposed.
“We should learn from the past and rest the decision with the people,” the prime minister said.
At least five meetings have been held between PM Abbasi and Shah so far, but all of them ended in a deadlock, with the matter now expected to be taken to a parliamentary committee.
The matter would go to the Election Commission of Pakistan if the parliamentary committee also fails to reach a consensus over a name for the top interim post.
Commenting on defections within his party, Abbasi said the defectors stayed with the ruling party for four years and 11 months. “It is better for individuals, who cannot be trusted, to quit the party.”
He, however, maintained that the ruling party had at least three to four “strong candidates” in every constituency.
The prime minister further said that it was necessary to call a meeting of the National Security Committee to put an end to the situation after the statement by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
Nawaz, in a recent interview had said, “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?”
His remarks were played up by the Indian media as an admission of Pakistan’s involvement in the terrorist attacks, even though similar questions and statements have been raised from civilian and security officials in Pakistan earlier.
“Give the kind of circumstances today, it has become difficult to run the country,” he said, questioning how would a country progress, in which the leadership stops making decisions.
“Under the present circumstances, bureaucracy is unwilling to present any summary. Such matters would be resolved through a national dialogue.”
Abbasi asserted that it would be difficult for any government to run the state affairs under current circumstances.
‘Dictator formed NAB to pressurise politicians’
Speaking about the National Accountability Bureau, he said the anti-graft body was established by a dictator to pressurise politicians, adding that they wished to disband the NAB through consensus.
His statement was a reference to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who established the bureau in the late 90s.
“It should be pondered over in the [national] dialogue whether it is in interest of the country whatever the NAB has been doing,” the prime minister said.
“The circumstances created by the NAB at present have been causing 90 per cent damage to the country.”
Tax amnesty scheme
Asked about the tax amnesty scheme his government introduced, Abbasi said the scheme provided a chance to individuals to come into the tax net.
He noted that his government slashed the tax rates by one half.
“Those doing business are under an obligation to pay taxes,” the premier added.