–PM says Pakistani forces have a presence in Saudi Arabia for last 40 years; details of troop deployment will be provided to parliament
–Slams recent judicial verdicts, says ‘justice should not only be done, it should be seen as being done’
ISLAMABAD: In a move to confront the topic of Pakistani troops being sent to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said that “training elements” rather than fighting forces are being sent to the Kingdom.
“The reality is very different from the perception,” said the premier during an interview that was aired on a local news channel on Thursday. “There is no deployment from here. No force is going to attack anyone over there.”
After an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release stating that a Pakistan Army contingent would be stationed in Saudi Arabia on a “training and advisory mission”, there were rising suspicions that Pakistan was being sucked into the Yemen conflict.
Abbasi clarified that Pakistani forces have been present in Saudi since the past 40 years for the sole purpose of training and added that the most recent send-off was a continuation of the same procedure. “Some personnel go and some come back. Sometimes they are less and more at other times. This is routine practice. There is nothing new,” he stated.
He also specifically condemned the misconception of a large contingent being sent and planning of an attack on Yemen and assured that details of the troops being sent would be provided to the parliament.
“Any details asked for will be provided,” he emphasised, adding: “The defence minister has given a clear statement in the Senate and if the house feels, I will also give one.”
Further on, the PM on being questioned about his speech in the National Assembly (NA) about the need for a parliamentary debate on who has the final say in legislation replied that the issue should have been settled decades ago but had persisted due to the breaks in democracy faced by the country.
“The role of every institution is defined in the constitution and whenever an institution exceeds its authority, it will be doing so at the cost of another institution. Now we are seeing that the legislature and the executive are being affected [by court decisions],” he said.
“It is said in court that ‘we will reject laws made by the parliament’; discouraging remarks are made for parliamentarians by the court. Other than that, appointments are challenged and officials are removed and humiliated. Government officials are called to the court and are asked irrelevant questions,” Abbasi lamented.
“In this situation, the easiest thing for a government official is to do nothing because no matter what you do, you will be questioned on by the court,” he said and further added: “Mistakes do happen and they do have consequences in terms of losses or benefits. But it is the domain of the executive. The responsibility to deliver at the end of the day is with the executive,” he said. “No one is going to ask the judiciary about why the work was not done.”
PM Abbasi observed that these reasons for debate were imperative to decide ‘whether the parliament is sovereign over not, what is the domain of the executive and whether the parliament can make laws.’
He also shared Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani’s belief for the need of an intra-institutional dialogue.
PERSECUTION NOT PROSECUTION:
Commenting on the court’s verdict on ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s eligibility to hold the position of party head, the PM maintained that Nawaz Sharif did not have any corruption charges against him.
“Who [else] has to appear twice before the courts every week?” he asked.
“Show me another NAB case where there have been two, or even one hearing every week. Is there only one case that is left in Pakistan?” he demanded.
“I do not see justice happening. This is an alarming situation. There is no charge of corruption against Nawaz Sharif,” he said. “What are you prosecuting? This is not prosecution but persecution,” he went on.
Moreover, the prime minister reminded the judiciary to tread carefully while making important decisions.
“The judiciary should keep an eye on decisions which have no legal precedent, which will not be accepted by history or by the people. There have been decisions by the courts which have made us liable to pay billions of dollars and we have no appeals over them,” said Abbasi.
“Justice should not only be done, it should be seen as being done,” he concluded.