Some elements unhappy with Govt-TTP ceasefire: Nawaz Sharif

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Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said some elements unhappy with the Taliban ceasefire were ‘neither our, nor the TTP’s friends’.

Talking to BBC, Nawaz said these elements, who were enemies of peace, wanted to deteriorate the affairs. “These elements carried out attacks at the Islamabad fruit and vegetable market and other places and we are trying to hunt them down.”

At the conclusion of his first trip to the UK after assuming the office of the prime minister, Nawaz told the BBC that attacks had gone down in Pakistan but not ceased fully. Asked how the security situation could be improved to attract the foreign investment, the prime minister said the security problem had been continuing since 9/11.

“This problem has been lingering on since the country had dictatorship. Had there not been martial laws, the security problem would not have emerged in the country. During democracy, the country has never had a security problem.”

On extremism, Nawaz said the martial law administrators pushed the politicians to the wall and built relations with those had no relations with democracy. “The result of this practice is what we are witnessing today. These are our own mistakes; this is production of our own sins.”

He further said: “Wounds were inflicted on Balochistan. We all know how Nawab Akbar Bugti was assassinated and then buried in the presence of a few people. Nobody has forgotten these scenes. I too feel the pain of the Baloch people.”

He said the government, the armed forces and intelligence agencies were making progress on the issue of security. “Our first priority is to resolve this problem through talks. Talks are on. Progress in talks is less than our expectations but if we achieve peace without any more bloodshed, nothing is more desirable than it.”

Regarding a recent statement of the army chief, Nawaz said he was right in saying that the Constitution was supreme and everybody should respect it. “Many misconceptions have been cleared after this statement of the army chief,” he added.

Asked that while the PPP and other parties say they would support democracy, voices are raised throughout the country when a journalist points a finger at a state institution, Nawaz said: “I do not think that we should hold somebody responsible for it at once. Speculations should not be made unless the facts come forward. We should wait for the findings of the judicial commission on Hamid Mir attack, which will fix the responsibility.”

He said nothing was done to heal the wounds of Balochistan in the previous government, but this time representatives of the people had made the government in the province. He said Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik had been tasked with wooing the angry elements and bringing them back into the mainstream politics.

The premier said his government will provide gas to each city of Balochistan and lay down a network of roads. “During these five years, a lot of work will be done in Balochistan to reduce the sense of deprivation there. Those who committed the atrocities against the Baloch people will have to pay for it,” he said.

“Dictatorship gives birth to racism, sectarianism and social and economic inequalities. Forty years ago, there was no talk of who was Shia and who was Sunni but when the undemocratic forces came, sectarian elements became their helpers and dictatorship became the breeding ground for terrorism,” he said.

Nawaz said he wanted better relations with both India and Afghanistan. “I had good relations with President Hamid Karzai and we will have to improve the relations with whatever (party) comes to power in India. We will talk to whoever the Indian people give mandate to. We will try to improve relations with them. We will bring back the good time of 1999 when Vajpayee came to Pakistan. Train, trade and visa services should be improved. We will also talk to India on the issue of electricity. We will try to move ahead on the issue of Kashmir.”

About extremism, he said it was rooted in dictatorship, deviation from the path of law and justice, and social and economic inequalities. “Had Pakistan been on the path of democracy, there would not have been a trace of these things today,” he said.

Nawaz is scheduled to visit Iran shortly to cement the ties and talk on the issues of gas, trade and frontier affairs. He said he wanted to promote historical relations with Iran. “We want strong relations with the UK. The UK is doing a lot in the field of education for Pakistan. It has initiated many development programs which we value.”

He said his UK counterpart had said that they wanted expanded relations with Pakistan in the field of security. He said the UK was also ready to help Pakistan overcome the ongoing energy crisis.

On his government’s 10-month progress, Nawaz said his government had paid attention to education, energy, economy and countering extremism. He said these four points were included in his party’s manifesto. He said the country’s economy was improving and his government will increase the education budget from two to four percent.

Nawaz said new power houses were being built which will help overcome the energy crisis. He added that his government was thinking about the country’s needs for the next 20-25 years. He said over the last 65 years, power generating units with a capacity to produce 23,000 MW were installed in the country whereas in the coming eight years the country will have 21,000 MW additional electricity. “Had we not believed (that we will be able to make it), we would not have promised it in our manifesto,” he said.

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