PM Shehbaz says NA will decide when to hold elections

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday that the National Assembly would decide the date for the next general elections.

Speaking on the floor of the lower house of parliament, the premier lashed out at the PTI and party Chairman Imran Khan. “I want to clarify to the leader of this group (PTI), your dictation won’t work. This house will decide when to hold elections.”

His remarks come after the PTI chief gave the government six days to announce a date for elections or else he would return to D-Chowk with his supporters. The PTI supporters have since dispersed.

PM Shehbaz said Imran should not “misunderstand”, adding that the doors for talks were always open but if the PTI chief thought he could “blackmail” the government then, “do it in your own house, not this House”.

He said the coalition government would continue to work hard and solve problems till it wanted to do so and its term was completed.

“Challenges and difficulties are a lot but we are committed. We will work hard to make Pakistan a free country and regain its lost honour,” the prime minister said, adding that Pakistan could still reach its destination despite the present “darkness”.

PM Shehbaz said that the government had two targets when he had assumed office — fair and transparent elections and reviving the sinking economy. He congratulated the House for passing legislation regarding the former and laying the basis for fair elections in the future.

Regarding the second target, he said it would be difficult but history was witness that if hard conditions and challenges were tackled with energy and effort, then the situation would improve.

For the rest of his speech, the prime minister criticised the PTI and its chairman Imran over clashes between his party workers and the police yesterday, which Shehbaz said were reminiscent of the scenes witnessed during the PTI’s 2014 sit-in.

“He (Imran) is thinking of refreshing 2014 events. If history is allowed to be repeated then nothing will remain,” PM Shehbaz said.

He condemned the PTI for its criticising the courts and institutions, saying the party changed its tone depending on whether judicial decisions came against it or for it.

The prime minister lamented the damage caused to Islamabad’s greenery yesterday and said the National Assembly would have to decide whether the country would be taken towards chaos or towards prosperity.

He also warned that no one would be allowed to bring live ammunition to Islamabad and permission could not be given for “bloody marches”. He added that law enforcement agencies in all respected societies used measures like tear gas shelling and rubber bullets against unconstitutional marches.

Shehbaz paid tribute to the personnel of various law enforcement agencies who had “performed their duties yesterday responsibly”.

The prime minister also lashed out at the PTI and Imran for not changing their march’s date from the day that Kashmiri freedom leader Yasin Malik was due to be sentenced by an Indian court. He claimed that Imran did not care about the tribulations of Kashmiris.

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