LONDON: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said that the defeat of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Lodhran by-election is a trendsetter for the 2018 general election and shows that the people of Pakistan have rejected Imran Khan’s politics of agitation and negativity.
Ahsan Iqbal was speaking to Geo News after delivering a talk at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) London on Pakistan’s vision for the future.
“Voters of Lodhran have given a mandate to PML-N for progress, development and stability. PTI’s politics of abuse, negativity and dhernas has been effectively defeated in Lodhran,” the interior minister said.
Slamming Imran, Iqbal said the PTI chief has himself exposed him before the masses. “Imran Khan has taken U-turns on his politics, on every promise he made, be it inherited politics or anything else, he has gone against his own viewpoints. Voters have rejected him due to his inconsistencies”.
The interior minister further said that voters across Pakistan can see that we have dealt with the energy crisis in the last four years, the economy has gone up, the security situation has been turned around. The mandate that has been given to us is for progress and continuity, he added.
Commenting on Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Iqbal said that Nawaz’s narrative against his ouster by the Supreme Court on insubstantial grounds is gaining popularity and making a big mark across the length and breadth of Pakistan.
“The people of Pakistan understand that a prime minister who resolved the energy crisis, brought peace and economic development to the country has been made a criminal. Then there is Imran Khan who has an American court judgement against him declaring him dishonest but declared Sadiq and Ameen in Pakistan, there is corruption of billions by Asif Ali Zardari but he has been turned into an angel and a holy man. Nawaz Sharif helped Pakistan stand and helped it become the emerging market but he has been made a criminal and the people of Pakistan are seeing it and sympathising with it.”
When asked to comment on Chaudhary Nisar’s attacks on PML-N leadership, Iqbal said: “Chaudhary Nisar is a senior politician and knows what’s good or bad for him. I don’t want to comment on his comments.”
He said that Imran has offered Nisar to join PTI because they have been class fellows. “I don’t anticipate that Chaudhary Nisar will leave PML-N.”
Earlier, addressing the audience, the interior minister said that joint efforts are required to eliminate terrorism from the world, Pakistan made tremendous socio-economic progress in past few year due to government policies, he added.
Commenting on relations with India, Iqbal said that Pakistan sincerely wanted to normalise relations with India but the country under Narendra Modi has shown no interest in peacebuilding.
He further said that for pursuing peace with India, former PM Nawaz Sharif paid a price and horrendous political allegations were made against him.
“India has disappointed us. It has not responded to our peace efforts. India believes it can bully Pakistan but that’s not acceptable to us as a nation and we will not allow that. We need to have respect for each other and we should know that our region is suffering. The issue of Indian occupation is a matter of concern for the international community,” Iqbal said.
We created platforms to talk to India but the current Indian government has a mentality where it thinks it can bully Pakistan, the interior minister added. “We believe dialogue is the future of South Asia. We all should work together as we have a shared destiny.”
Iqbal also told the audience that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a fusion of China’s One Road, One Belt initiative and Pakistan’s 2025 Vision on regional connectivity.
“We have our due diligence done on CPEC. Several countries including Afghanistan have shown interest to join, we look forward to developing links with them. China can play a role to stabilsie the region because its investments are much needed in the region. China can bring commercial investment that can help develop the regional economies,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal added that the PML-N government has successfully dealt with the energy crisis with the help from Chinese investment. He said that four years ago, there was load-shedding for 18-20 hours and that level has been brought to zero in around 70 percent of Pakistan.
“There’s only a little power shortage in some areas where there is a high level of theft. In rest of the country, there is uninterrupted power supply,” he said.