‘Far-fetched idea’: Fawad rebuffs Shehbaz’s suggestion of forming a national govt

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday said the solution to Pakistan’s problems was democracy, accepting the majority’s opinion and rule of law in a rebuff to PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif’s idea of a national government to solve the country’s issues.

In a candid conversation with journalists outside Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum on Monday, the PML-N president had said he was convinced that the solution to problems plaguing the country lay in a national government.

“I think we should have a national government in place to sort out these huge tasks. I don’t know what the exact shape of this idea would be and the right time may make things clearer but for me it’s crucial,” he had said.

Questioned on the suggestion during his press conference in Islamabad following a meeting of the federal cabinet, the information minister rubbished the idea, saying: “The solution to Pakistan’s problems is democracy, accepting the majority’s decision and implementation of law. If the law is acted upon then Shehbaz Sharif will be in Adiala jail instead of Mazar-i-Quaid.”

He alleged that instead of calling for the implementation of the law, Shehbaz was “pondering 24 hours [about] what can be his role [in government] and how he can become a part of the government”.

The information minister claimed that there were some people who had worked with the PML-N president for a long time and they wanted as well to somehow force him into becoming a part of the government.

“Currently, I think [PML-N Vice President] Maryam [Nawaz] bibi isn’t including him in the PML-N so him becoming a part of the government is a far-fetched idea.”

He said the only reason Shehbaz was not in prison was that the courts were not hearing his cases on a daily basis.

UK red list issue

Regarding the ongoing issue of Pakistan remaining on the UK’s travel red list, Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken up the matter with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The UK government believes that there needs to be a discussion on Pakistan’s internal [Covid-19] testing mechanism,” he said, adding that a detailed session will be held this week between Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan and Britain’s chief medical scientist.

The information minister said the government was making complete efforts for Pakistan to be taken off the list since it was “a matter of importance to many Pakistanis”.

Speaking on other issues, he said the premier had tasked Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin and Energy Minister Hammad Azhar to bring a reduction in the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders.

“The prime minister has emphasised that there is a need to bring cylinder prices down and these two ministers will now meet on this and take the issue forward.”

Afghanistan situation

Addressing the situation in Afghanistan, Chaudhry said the air corridor opened to provide aid to Afghanistan would remain operational.

He expressed hope that Afghanistan’s “40-year sad tale” would come to an end and Afghans would be able to take a “sigh of relief” and Pakistan would be able to strengthen its relations with a stable neighbour.

“We have a message for the Afghan people that we pray for your peace and stability and will do whatever is possible to provide relief.”

Regarding recognition of any new government in Afghanistan, he said “Pakistan’s policy was clear” that it would not take an isolated decision.

“International and regional attitudes would be considered before a decision to recognise the new Afghan regime,” Chaudhry said.

Questioned on recent attacks against the Pakistan Army from the Afghan border, he said: “It’s not as if there will be changes the very next day the government is changed.

“This is a process and we should wait. The new Afghan authorities have given a clear stance and we hope they won’t allow Afghanistan’s soil to be used against any country.”

He said there would be a reduction in Indian “mischief” and funding to use Afghan soil against Pakistan.