Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Friday maintained his government has a “zero tolerance” for smuggling, stressing any culprits will be proceeded against under law.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he said the caretaker government had, in a meeting last week, discussed the monitoring, implementation and future strategy over smuggling, power theft and hoarding. Claiming extensive discussions had taken place on the Afghan Transit Trade agreement and reopening of the Torkham border, he stressed that restoring Afghan trade did not mean smuggling would become a factor once more.
To a question on the alleged involvement of Afghan refugees in cross-border smuggling, Kakar said the government had devised an effective policy to counter it. He also addressed an ongoing crackdown on Afghan refugees, noting there were three categories of Afghans living in Pakistan. The first, he said, were those registered with the government, the second were those who had committed “identity theft,” while the third category was “aliens with no justification to reside” in Pakistan.
“We will push the [Afghan] aliens back to their country and no one without the visa regime will be allowed to live here,” he warned.
Responding to a query on the inflationary impact of successive hikes to petroleum prices under the caretaker government, the prime minister regretted the issue was linked to global increases in oil prices and the government could do little to prevent it without violating agreements committed to multilateral lenders. To a question on his government’s inability to announce “relief” for electricity consumers despite promising to do so earlier this month, he said he did not want to make any commitment unless it was backed up action. However, he added, the government would soon have “good news” for consumers.
Continuity of policies
At one point, the interim prime minister was asked about how he could ensure continuity of policies following elections, as successive governments often backtracked from policies devised by their predecessors. “The consistency you are referring to is possible in one-party government which rules for two, three or four decades and forwards its policies with consistency—whether they are right or wrong,” he said. “If you come in liberal democracy, where a parliamentary system exists, policies are made through assessments in view of economic and political challenges and on that basis they [rulers] are judged by the people who again give them mandate or not,” he said.
“I understand that even expectation of such uniform policies is unrealistic,” he said, adding the people should decide whether or not they wish to continue supporting governments based on the results of their decisions while they are in power.
On general elections and when they could occur, Kakar reiterated that this was the mandate of the Election Commission of Pakistan. “If I announce elections, I would be engaging in an unlawful act, and as a journalist, you should be aware that if you steer us towards illegal actions and pose questions that might tempt us to break the law, then what my response should be,” he added.
To a question on the induction of Fawad Hasan Fawad and Ahad Cheema into the federal cabinet, despite the perception they were politically affiliated with the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), the interim prime minister said both men were “capable and integrated individuals of society with their prime identity as former civil servants.” He noted neither had even been registered members or office-holders of any political party.