May 9 condemnation ‘won’t leave culprits off hook’

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ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said on Friday that the impression of exoneration from the charges related to May 9 violence after addressing a condemnatory press conference was not true, stressing the anyone’s acquittal would be determined by courts.

In an interview with a private television channel, the prime minister said that getting rid of the charges once “you get implicated in an FIR [first information report], without going through the legal process” was not possible.

“This is an impression. I know many people, who also condemned the May 9 violence, are still facing the legal challenge. Therefore, this is not completely true that they walk free after addressing a press conference,” he said.

In a wide-ranging interview, the prime minister assured that Kakar assured that the caretaker government would ensure a level-playing field for all the political parties in the coming elections. He expressed the hope that international observers would validate the fairness of the elections.

He said that all the political parties were allowed to hold rallies as no additional laws were in place to disrupt gatherings of any party. Sometimes, the political parties also created such impressions to attract their voters, which was nothing serious but a part of politics.

He said the political parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), were free to field their candidates and contest the polls. “The caretaker government will ensure level-playing field for all the parties.”

Asked about the action against smugglers and hoarders, Kakar said that it yielded positive results in the form of historic improvement in the stock market and the rupee appreciation, which reduced the country’s debt by Rs4,000 billion, besides declining the prices of rice, sugar, ghee and other items.

“The smuggled goods deprive the government of tax revenue and impact the local industry but after the operation, the local industry has started receiving orders, which will create employments and enhance tax collection,” he said.

When pressed about the action against smugglers and hoarders, Kakar admitted that it was a challenge because of the lack of evidence that was admissible in the court. He stressed that the situation could be addressed through necessary legal amendments.

Kakar denied his meeting with former cricketer Shahid Afridi anything to do with the expiry of the incumbent Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairperson’s term on November 4. “It was a social interaction,” he said, adding that the decision about the tenure of Zaka Ashraf would be taken after the World Cup.

Crackdown on illegal immigrants

Kakar said that there was no perpetual ban on foreigners being repatriated and they could come back after obtaining travel documents and visas. The government’s policy, he said, was not meant for any vendetta rather it aimed at regulating the movement, which was in the interest of both the countries.

When asked about the criticism of the government crackdown by various human rights organisations, the prime minister stated that sometimes, organisations unnecessarily criticised the governments’ policy. “Otherwise, they kept mum when immigrants were left to drown in the Mediterranean.”

He explained that a mechanism had been developed at the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to eliminate any abuse or pollutants in family trees, while respecting the rights of the Pashtun people of Pakistan.

On the economic issues, Kakar said that the government was making efforts to privatise some entities or at least leave behind the process at a mature stage for the next government. He added that two or three models were being considered for the privatisation of the Pakistan Steels Mill.

Responding to a question about about the enforced disappearances, the prime minister, said the state had an inherent right of apprehension which was wrongly called enforced disappearance.

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