Democracy cannot withstand instances like Senate elections: PM

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday said the country’s democracy cannot withstand another instance like the Senate elections held earlier this year, or the manner in which the Balochistan government came into power.

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Addressing an awards ceremony at All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) in Islamabad, the prime minister urged media organisations to ensure responsible and objective reporting by exercising due diligence in verifying facts.

He also highlighted the government’s resolve to uphold freedom of the media.

“The present government resolved to safeguard freedom of expression [and media] from day one. But it is your responsibility to ensure objective reporting,” he told the audience, adding that it was healthy to criticise but equally important to highlight the positives.

He said that the government had decided from the start that there would be no ‘secret funds’ for journalists.

PM Abbasi called for a self-regulating mechanism to ensure responsible and objective media reporting, while emphasising the importance of facts-based reporting to the country’s progress.

“The media needs reforms today more than it did ever before,” he said.

The premier noted that censorship was useless in today’s age of social media. “Social media has [transformed the media landscape] by making all information available to anyone.”

He said media censorship may render short-term advantages but it was never in national interests, especially in the modern age.

‘Govt has managed to overcome gas shortage’

Speaking at a press conference later in the day, Prime Minister Abbasi said the current government has been able to overcome the shortage of gas in the country.

He said that there has been a complete implementation of the plans as promised by the current government to end the gas shortage.

PM Abbasi pointed out that Pakistan is being hailed as a success in the LPG industry because of some of the lowest prices in the world.

Lauding the government’s role, he informed that 116 oil and gas discoveries were made during the last five years, which is a record.

These discoveries have added 35,000 barrels of oil and 900 million cubic feet of gas to the system, he said.

Around 445 wells have also been drilled during this government’s tenure as compared to just eight or nine in a year earlier. Of these, 225 are exploratory wells, he said, adding that the total discoveries reflect the success rate of 50 per cent which is a notable achievement.

Talking about the number of new gas connections, the prime minister said that when the government came into power there were seven million connections in the country. Now, there are 9 million connections through a transparent mechanism.

He also said that they laid a transmission line which is 1,700 kilometre long at a cost of Rs200 billion.

Abbasi shared that arrangements have been made for the laying of pipelines in the north and south of the country with the cooperation of Russia and China.

Discussing the TAPI project [short for Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline], the premier said that work is being done on the project with the expectation that Pakistan would be receiving gas by 2020 through TAPI.

LPG air-mix plants are also being set up in areas which previously did not have a steady supply of gas. These include Balochistan, Chitral, Gilgit and Azad Kashmir, he said, adding that a similar plant would be set up in Skardu within two to three years.

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