Pakistan PM Shahid Abbasi seeks national debate on civil-military ties, role of judiciary

ISLAMABAD, May 29 (PTI): In an unusual move, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has called for a national debate on the future civil-military relations, the role of the judiciary and other state institutions in the country.
Addressing a news conference days before the end of his term in office, Abbasi said the issue of civil-military ties would remain there irrespective of who formed the next government, besides the role of other stakeholders like the judiciary, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the media.
When the judiciary interfered in the working of the executive and the NAB crippled the government functioning, no government would be able to work and perform, the prime minister was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper today.
Abbasi was apparently referring to the Supreme Court disqualifying former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the NAB registering three corruption cases against the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo in connection with the Panama Papers case.
Therefore, there should be a national dialogue on what should be the role of the judiciary and NAB when the next government came to power, he said yesterday.
Presenting an overview of the PML-N government’s five-year performance ahead of elections on July 25, he said, “There should also be a national dialogue on civil-military relationship.”
The powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since independence in 1947, is considered a major player in the country’s politics.
He said countries could not be run like this and governments could not perform if there is a tussle between different state institutions.
Flanked by finance minister Dr Miftah Ismail, the prime minister said the people voted his party to government five years ago and his government has performed as per the wishes of the people.
“We have respected the vote with performance”, Abbasi, who became the prime minister after Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court last year, said.
He said the political instability had devastating impact on the country and the performance of the government. He cited the 2014 sit-in, the Panama Papers case verdict and the Supreme Court’s judgement removing Sharif as a few events that hampered Pakistan’s progress.
Abbasi said that the PML-N has made a significant improvement Pakistan’s economic conditions. By the end of the government’s tenure, the economic growth rate is high while inflation is low, he claimed.
He admitted that low exports and high imports remained a challenge for his government. The International Monetary Fund’s first post-programme monitoring report shows Pakistan’s gross external debt in terms of exports was 193.2 per cent in 2013, which is projected to deteriorate to an alarming 316 per cent in June this year, the Express Tribune reported.