Premature to talk about army chief’s extension: PM Shehbaz Sharif

Lahore: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addressing at the Inauguration of Saleem Memorial Trust Hospital. 08 May, 2022. (NNI Photos)

LAHORE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday said that the question related to the extension of the army chief is premature and he will see to it when the time comes.  The premier was speaking to a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) in Lahore. The meeting was attended by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Information Secretary Shahira Shahid and PIO Mubashir Hassan. The CPNE delegation included the body’s president Kazim Khan, senior vice-president Ayaz Khan, Punjab vice-president Irshad Ahmed Arif, secretary-general Amir Mahmood, and other members. The prime minister said that the government does not intend to restrict freedom of press and expression and added that under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) ordinance and other laws, all possible protection will be given to journalists. He added that the Ministry of Law has already been entrusted with the task of reviewing the PECA ordinance.  Aside from speaking about journalistic freedom and the army chief’s extension, the premier also shed light on several other issues. PM Shehbaz said that the government was taking steps to ensure power generation, transmission, and supply.  “Imran Khan’s regime doubled the debt burden on the nation in four years, but now, the government is trying to ensure the availability of basic necessities of life to the masses at low prices,” he said, adding that the coalition government is also working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects as well as Reko Diq. Speaking about the government’s foreign policy, PM Shehbaz told the journalists that it wants to deal with all countries with mutual respect and interests. He also said that electoral reforms were essential for transparent elections in the country.  Later, during an informal conversation with journalists in Model Town, the prime minister said that the word “revenge does not exist in Nawaz Sharif’s dictionary.” “There are no restrictions on the freedom of expression, but the spread of anarchy will not be allowed,” he said.  Comparing his government with that of the previous one, he said “our performance has won the hearts of the masses.” Speaking about the elections, the premier said that the time for the polls will be decided after consultations with the coalition parties.  “This government will stay in power until August next year.” The premier said that Pakistan was not in a position to sideline or antagonise the United States as it was the superpower. “[During his tenure] Nawaz Sharif had not said not said ‘absolutely yes’ to president Bill Clinton but he had handled diplomatic matters tactfully,” he said. To a question on the extension of the army chief, Shehbaz said that he will see to it when the time comes., adding that every institution works within its constitutional ambit. PM Shehbaz Sharif, while criticising the president of Pakistan, said that Arif Alvi has become a tool of the PTI. “The president has committed constitutional and legal violations. There may be a constitutional petition against the president,” he said.


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