Ahsan slams smear campaign against Pak-China ties

Our Correspondent
Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal Wednesday accused “a political party” of spreading misinformation about the Pakistan-China relations over the past few days, claiming that a smear campaign was underway to sabotage the strong ties between the two time-tested friends.

Addressing a press conference at the PMLN central secretariat in Model Town, Ahsan categorically stated that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or any other political party, would not be allowed to spread misinformation against the state’s diplomatic relations and policies.

“Our politics may have ups and downs, but the interests and future of the state should be common,” he said adding that the political party was putting the state into danger to save its politics and doing anti-nationalist politics. “The political party starts trolling the judiciary to take arbitrary decisions and the same is done against the army and its opponents,” he alleged and further said this style of politics was not democratic and it could not benefit the party.

“While differences exist between the government and the opposition, state institutions should not be targeted. Weakening these institutions jeopardizes the stability of the state,” he added and regretted that “trolling is being used to put pressure on critics, and subject them to harassment”.

The minister pointed out that for the first time, Pakistan and China were advancing their relations in the space sector. “China’s participation will elevate the space programme to new heights. China has expressed readiness to take CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) to upgraded level,” he added.

The minister said that a state’s policy was not determined by random articles. “Articles are written and published worldwide, but no country or state formulates policy based on them. Policy decisions are made through negotiations between governments,” he added. “China, Saudi Arabia and UAE have trusted Pakistan in recent times.”

The federal minister said “only a fool would claim that relations are deteriorating. Relations with China have improved after recent engagements.” Ahsan Iqbal quoted the Chinese president as saying that “they (China) want to deepen strategic relations”.

The planning minister remarked that Pakistan-China relations would further strengthen, dismissing claims that Beijing had downgraded its relations with Islamabad as enemy propaganda. The minister emphasized that any attempt to toy with the interests of the state would be dealt with an iron hand, and “we may have disagreements, but that doesn’t mean we are playing for the state’s interests”.

Ahsan Iqbal recalled that the PMLN leaders went to jails but never made the national institutions the target of their politics. “If we hollow out the institutions, there can be no guarantee for national defence,” he added.

The minister alleged that the particular party got articles published related to Pakistan-China relations. He said the joint statement issued after the prime minister’s recent visit can be described as the most comprehensive and now Pakistan-China relations have reached the stars instead of Himalayan heights.

Cooperation between Pakistan and China would also expand to more fields, he announced and said the PTI people should understand the difference between their politics and interests of the state. “If you continue to do so, you will be dealt with iron hands. We have taken an oath to protect the interests of the Constitution of Pakistan,” the minister warned.

In the recent visit, at the request of Shehbaz Sharif, Huawei Company announced training for three lakh youths, he said and added that it had been decided that China would train 10,000 youth in the field of agriculture. “We have to give the best skills to the youth by freeing them from hatred and trolling,” he stated.

“A recent survey at the World Economic Forum termed misinformation as the top risk,” he said adding respect for freedom of opinion was necessary but permanent disinformation and sedition in the country could not be tolerated. He maintained that peace, stability and reforms were essential in the world and everyone must do politics and have a dialogue in parliament.

Repeating his warning, he said anarchy would not be allowed on streets. “We did not put the founder of PTI in jail; he is in jail for his deeds,” Ahsan Iqbal said and maintained “we have faced the worst martial laws but we have never tried to stop aid to the state”.

Ahsan Iqbal announced that Pak-China friendship would never end but asked why politicise the friendship. “A few judges made decisions at the behest of their families that set us back 10 years,” he alleged and asked the PTI to change its style of politics as its behaviour was against the principles of running the state as they wanted to foment anarchy, which would not be allowed.

To a question about Ali Amin Gandapur’s recent remarks, Ahsan Iqbal said that during the meetings with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister, there was no such impression he was presenting to the public now.

Replying to a question, he claimed that half of the electricity in many Discos in the country was stolen. Loadshedding was being done in non-bill paying areas in KP, he said adding “we cannot make electricity more expensive by allowing them to steal electricity”.

Ahsan Iqbal said the KP chief minister should improve the recovery of electricity bills in his province or purchase electricity in bulk from the federal government and give it free to his people. Now was the time to sit together and solve the problems, he concluded.

Earlier on Sunday, in an apparent reference to the PTI, Barrister Aqeel Malik, the federal government’s spokesperson on legal affairs, warned that the state would clamp on those involved in running an anti-state campaign on social media in a bid to damage Pakistan’s ties with friendly countries.