FATA reforms likely to get delayed

  • PM Abbasi says centuries-old laws cannot be done away within days or weeks

  • Says state institutions are functioning and government is going nowhere


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday dropped a strong hint about the delay of the Extension of Jurisdictions to Federally Administered Tribal Areas Bill, 2017, for an indefinite period.

“Centuries-old laws cannot be done away within days and weeks,” the premier said in a meeting with a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) here.

About rumours of political instability, the prime minister made it clear that there was no political instability and no conspiracy was being hatched against the government at the Centre.

“There is no conspiracy whatsoever. State institutions are functioning and the government is going nowhere,” he said.

About conflicting statements by senior PML-N leaders about political instability, Abbasi said that difference of opinion in mainstream political parties was a natural phenomenon.

“We must know differences crop up even within families too,” he added.

Asked specifically about a statement by National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq that the assemblies might not complete their term and he (speaker) was seeing a ‘greater plan’ in the offing, PM Abbasi said that in his personal view he (Ayaz Sadiq) had gone overboard. “I had asked the speaker to make a clarification about his statement,” he said, and remarked that “if he (the speaker) has not clarified his statement then it is his own decision”.

Asked why the government has not appointed a finance minister to replace Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar, the prime minister said that he could not find a suitable person in the National Assembly or Senate who could be appointed as the finance minister.

“I myself am looking after the affairs of the Finance Ministry for the time being. As soon as I would find a suitable person, I would appoint one as the finance minister,” he maintained.

Asked about the sudden depreciation of Pak rupee against US dollar, the prime minister said that the rupee price fall was not an engineered act but an accumulative effect of the media allegations about political stability.

Abbasi said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had never interfered in his affairs. He said that Nawaz Sharif and PTI Chairman Imran Khan did matter with the public, while former president Asif Ali Zardari had no repute at all.

The prime minister said the government would announce next elections by March 15 next year while the election would be held by July 15 next year. He said the next government would take over by August 1 next year.

About his interaction with the opposition parties to evolve consensus over the delimitations bill, Prime Minister Abbasi said that all misgivings about the bill had been resolved and a broad consensus had been achieved during his meeting with the parliamentary leaders. “Hopefully, this bill will soon be passed. But even if it is not passed, elections would be held according to the schedule on old delimitations,” he said.

About speculations on ‘political instability,’ he said that those involved in speculations were doing a disservice to the country.

Abbasi said that sensationalising was a bad omen for the democratic order. He said that the cross-media ownership should not be allowed.

Answering a question about General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the premier said that the former military ruler was making ‘political’ statements from abroad, and urged him to return to the country and face the courts.