Malala ‘Face Of Pakistan’
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 17: The Prime Minister of Pakistan Raja Pervez Ashraf said HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah had given him the impression that the ban on issuance of visas to Pakistani nationals will be resolved very soon.
The premier was talking in an exclusive interview to the Arab Times Wednesday on the last day of his visit to Kuwait to take part in the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit.
Pervez Ashraf met HH the Amir at the end of the conference on Wednesday.
He said he had also raised the issue of visas to Pakistanis with Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah during a meeting held earlier. “Sheikh Jaber Mubarak promised to look into the issue seriously to resolve it.”
On the issue of absentee ballot for expatriate Pakistanis, Pervez Ashraf said his party is in favour of it; however, it’s a technical issue which the Election Commission has to look into. “Every citizen of Pakistan has the right to cast vote, and for expatriates we have to make facilities here for them to exercise their fundamental right of choosing their government.”
The premier said he welcomes the idea of setting up a local polling station for expatriates. “The other practicalities have to be worked out by the Election Commission. Absentee voting system has to be studied before implementing it to ensure that elections are free and fair, and all expatriate Pakistanis will be able to take part in it.”
He further noted that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) not only supports the enfranchisement of expatriate Pakistanis, but also those having dual citizenship. “Some opposition parties in Pakistan are against enfranchising Pakistanis holding dual citizenship on the grounds that they have surrendered their nationality in favour of another country, which they see in dim light. They make the baseless claim that people with dual nationalities are likely to be more loyal to their adopted country.”
PPP has always supported the cause of Pakistanis living overseas with dual citizenship. They are productive citizens wherever they are, contributing heavily to Pakistan’s economy. “We want to give them voting rights too.
“We have moved a bill in the Parliament to grant expatriate Pakistanis voting rights, and it will soon be presented in the standing committee of the House. But the move can be legislated only through a constitutional amendment for which we would need a two-third majority. We don’t have that majority unfortunately.
The premier took the example of Pakistanis in countries like the UK, where they are MPs despite their dual nationality. “We can also show that level of magnanimity to our people.”
Pervez Ashraf ridiculed the call for early elections in his country by opposition parties, “because we have almost completed our term, and elections are due in March next year. There is really no need to advance the elections a this stage.”
To a question on growing extremism in Pakistan, highlighted by the recent shooting of teenage activist, Malala, the premier said the extremist elements in Pakistan are a small minority. Pakistan, he added, is the frontline state in the fight against terror. “We have sacrificed a lot in our efforts to defeat terror.”
He said that the vast majority of Pakistanis, 180 million strong, are moderate in their outlook, and believe in pluralism. “They are peace loving and believe in moderation.”
The premier emphasized that the killers of Malala will be brought to justice, and he brushed aside concerns of escalation of tension by engaging Taliban militarily. “We have been fighting extremists everywhere in Pakistan and we have been able to effectively contain them so far.”
Of Malala, he said, “she is the face of Pakistan. Everybody wants education and has aspirations in life. Everybody wants peace. The majority of people think like her.
“People from all walks of life and all political parties have condemned her shooting unanimously. The hearts and prayers of Pakistani people are with Malala.”
On the ACD Summit, which wrapped up here earlier today, Ashraf said the ACD had delivered a very good message for Asian people and the world at large.
“Pakistan has its own strategic situation in the region and its own importance in the Asian community, thus, it would definitely benefit from focus points of the ACD, especially the ones on development, infrastructure and energy. So, Pakistan is likely to be benefited,” Ashraf told KUNA.
Pakistan is a member of the ACD since its inception in 2002.
These kind of forums would absolutely contribute to the improvement of relations between Pakistan and India, which are already on the right track, he said.
“There is great improvement in relations. India is our neighbor and we want good relations with all our neighbors,” he said.
Ashraf indicated that Pakistan has always been of the opinion of having a conducive environment in Asia, which would ensure the its prosperity and progress.
“We have always tried to strengthen our relations with regional countries, a matter that is important for all the good reasons,” the Pakistani premier concluded.
The prime minister expressed his appreciation to the Amir for hosting a very large Pakistani community in Kuwait which was contributing significantly to the development of Kuwait, their second home. The Prime Minister extended a most cordial invitation to the Amir to pay a visit to Pakistan.
Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said that relations between Kuwait and Pakistan were most cordial and brotherly. He acknowledged the contribution of the Pakistani community in the Kuwait. He promised to help in early resolution of the visa issue.
The Amir accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan and said that he looked forward to his visit.
From Arab Times