No more toppling of elected government: Ashraf
Islamabad, March 17 : Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has said the practice of replacing an elected government by military might in the country has ended.
In his farewell address to the nation, hours before the dissolution of the lower house National Assembly on completion of its five-year term Saturday, the 62-year-old leader said: "It is our resolve that free, fair and transparent elections are conducted in the country."
"We devolved powers to the provinces and strengthened the Election Commission for holding free and fair elections in the country."
He ruled out the possibility of any kind of rigging in the elections in the presence of what he termed "independent judiciary and strong media", reported Geo News citing Ashraf in a recorded speech aired on state-run media and private TV channels.
Ashraf had replaced Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister last year in the midst of a battle with the Supreme court over the issue of writing a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen a graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
On Saturday, the outgoing prime minister Ashraf said the door to enter into power through might had been permanently shut and no one could topple a democratically elected government.
He praised the armed forces and law enforcement agencies for their valour with which they defended the national frontiers and established the government's writ in terror-infested parts of the country.
Mentioning about Pakistan's foreign policy, Ashraf said: "We don't harbour any hostility against other countries and believe in peace and prosperity for all."
"Pakistan's interest precedes all other considerations," he said, adding that his government's economic policies resulted in Pakistan's exports crossing $25 billion mark while its stock exchange hit new records. "We supported the idea of trade against aid."
In his meeting held earlier that day with four chief ministers, Ashraf said a consensus was evolved to hold elections for both national and provincial assemblies on the same day.
It is for the first time in Pakistan's 66-year history that the National Assembly has completed its five-year tenure.