Amid uncertainty surrounding the election schedule, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Friday reiterated that announcing the poll date was beyond the constitutional mandate of the caretaker set-up.

Addressing a press conference reported by Geo News, he said, “Announcing the election date is not the prerogative of a caretaker set-up. It will be illegal if we announce a date for the polls. We will not support any unconstitutional measure.” Responding to a question, the premier warned of a consistent crackdown against illegal trade and said an effective management plan is being implemented to control cross-border smuggling. “We have zero tolerance for those involved in the ‘smuggling industry’ and the law will take its course,” he said at a press conference held at the PM House. Kakar said detailed deliberations were held on the Afghan transit trade and the reopening of Torkham border. The Commerce Ministry had taken a lead along with border management authorities including Customs in revising the policy to allow or restrict the trade items, he said.

He categorised the Afghans living in Pakistan into three classes including those registered with the government, aliens with no justification to reside, and those with identity theft. “We will push the [Afghan] aliens back to their country and no one without the visa regime will be allowed to live here,” he said. He regretted that the previous lenient approach in this regard resulted in various social evils.

The interim prime minister also pointed out the risk of smuggling leading to the strengthening of terrorist outfits and non-state actors.

Asked about the hike in petroleum prices thrice during the tenure of the caretaker government, he said the matter was beyond domestic control and was linked to the global increase.

To a question on the nexus of politicians and public officials involved in misappropriation, he said, “We have to break this cycle on priority to get effective results followed by stern action against the responsible ones. “We will take action on adopting a due process without fear and favour, and will take them to the court of law,” he said.

On the political alignment of Fawad Hasan Fawad and Ahad Cheema who were included in the caretaker setup, Kakar said he considered them both “capable and integrated individuals of society with their prime identity as former civil servants”.

Earlier, chairing a meeting, Kakar reiterated his resolve to address all key issues being faced by the country with collective efforts. “As key challenges such as inflation, hoarding, smuggling, and electricity theft are related to the governance, therefore it is decided that the federal government along with all the provinces and their leadership would sit together to jointly devise a comprehensive strategy to fight the issues with collective efforts,” he said.

He dispelled the impression that the government’s drive against smuggling, hoarding, electricity theft and inflation was temporary. He also appreciated the civil and military bureaucracy for successfully launching the drive.

“I am very much sure that they [the law enforcement agencies] have no deliberate intention to occupy the space of other organisations,” he added. He said the intention was always that the functionality of the governance should be maintained.

“At least the functionality of the state should remain relatively normal and in this connection this meeting is a milestone,” he added. He also stressed to correct the overall attitude of the governance.

The interim prime minister said as soon as the performance of the civil servants was improved, their writ, respect, and their branding would automatically improve.

“This is possible only through collective efforts,” he added.

Meanwhile, Director General of the Islamic Organisation for Food Security Yerlan Baidaulet called on the caretaker prime minister. –APP

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