Pak 'can't afford any crisis' | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 20, 2018

Pak 'can't afford any crisis'

Interior minister says judiciary won't influence outcome of this year's general election

Pressure from Pakistan's judiciary won't influence the outcome of upcoming general elections this year, Pakistan's Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Wednesday, adding he hoped the election would be free and fair.

Earlier this month, Pakistan's Supreme Court disqualified deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party from holding office for life amid an ongoing corruption trial.

Sharif and his family have called the corruption proceedings a conspiracy and hinted at intervention by the military, but opponents have hailed them as a rare example of the rich and powerful being held accountable. The military denies any such intervention.

"We hope elections will be fair and free as the country can't afford any crisis as a result, but recently there are some concerns due to the judicial activism and how the national accountability bureau has been pursuing cases against only one party," the minister told Reuters, speaking at Pakistan's High Commission in London.

He also highlighted complaints by media groups that they had not been allowed to broadcast.

But he did not think such activities would affect the election's outcome: "In the past we have seen attempts to influence the process but when millions of people vote it is very difficult to control the outcome."

The minister said the election would most likely be held in the last week of July and he expected the PML-N to win on the back of its economic record. It gained control of the parliament's upper house in a secret ballot in early March.

He expects a GDP growth rate of 6.2 percent in 2019 and 6.4 percent in 2020, up from 5.8 percent in 2018 according to provisional estimates from Pakistan's Bureau of Statistics.

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