Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said that the Constitution stipulated strict punishment for all those who maligned and conspired against the armed forces of the country and that the law would take its course in this regard.
“The appointment of the army chief, in accordance with the Constitution and rules and regulations, is the prerogative of the premier,” PM Shehbaz said while addressing media persons after an Iftar dinner.
The prime minister maintained that the appointment of next army chief would be made in accordance with the Constitution “when the time comes”.
“The appointment of next army chief is the requirement of the Constitution,” he said. “There is severe punishment in the Constitution for speaking and conspiring against the armed forces. The law will take its course [against those who malign institutions],” the PM said.
Shehbaz said that he would meet the Saudi leadership during his visit to the country, adding that he would also go to China soon. On the resignations by the PTI lawmakers from the National Assembly, the premier said he was told that many of the parliamentarians were “forced” to quit their offices.
“The issue of resignations is a legal one. We did not want the PTI legislators to resign.”
The premier lamented that President Alvi had not administered oath to the newly formed coalition members, saying: “He (president) did not act according to his position.”
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On the Lettergate scandal, he said that the US conspiracy was not proved in the two National Security Committee meetings. “The (Lettergate) matter will also be taken up in the parliamentary security committee meeting. The formation of a commission can also be considered on the issue of foreign interference.”
The Lettergate dispute was triggered when then Premier Imran Khan brandished a letter, purportedly containing evidence of a foreign plot against his government, at his Islamabad rally on March 27.
Shehbaz said Pakistan wanted good relations with the US and would try to improve ties with the country.
Discussing the National Accountability Bureau, he noted that several bureaucrats and businessmen complained about the anti-graft watchdog, saying that his government would “mull over the future of NAB”.
The premier held the former government responsible for the prevailing energy crisis, saying that oil and LNG were not procured on time.
“A few months back, the LNG was available for $3 but that opportunity was lost,” he said, adding that relations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar deteriorated because of the “incompetence” of the previous government.
“Nobody will listen to us if we are economically weak. The Soviet Union collapsed because of its poor economy.” On Imran’s statement that Russia was offering wheat and oil at discounted rates of 30 per cent, Shehbaz said he was not aware of it, maintaining that he would verify the matter through the Foreign Office.
He said the next general polls would be held after the introduction of electoral reforms.
The premier said he had no objection to Imran’s call to stage a sit-in in Islamabad if it was held in a “democratic manner”.
“We will not allow people to suffer. We will not allow anyone to resort to violence in the streets.”
Shehbaz said that a few channels accused him of wrongdoing in the past which affected the relations with China.
He lamented Tuesday’s attack on Chinese nationals at the Karachi University, adding that he had directed Interior Minister Rana Sanullah to visit the metropolis on Wednesday (today).