– Announces to hold talks with allies, opposition on 5th
ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan on Sunday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Centre and provinces to formulate a comprehensive strategy to protect the rights of students and resolve their problems on an immediate basis.
In a series of tweets, Awan said that the young generation was an important asset and hope for the future. “The realisation of dreams of the youth is a central mission of Prime Minister Imran Khan,” she tweeted.
“The PM asked federation and provinces to envisage strategies [for students]. The demand for rights from the students is a good sign which reflected their consciousness and thoughtfulness.”
She added that the students have to bring a new democratic leadership with new thoughts and insights and they have aims to fight every challenge.
The special assistant urged for character building of the youth especially students based on principles of hard work and truth. She also emphasised for making the dynamic role of the students compatible with social welfare and national security.
Meanwhile, she also congratulated the Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz on the 5th anniversary of his accession to the throne.
Pakistan commends the huge projects that Saudi Arabia has witnessed in the past five years in various fields, the special assistant said.
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Pakistan-Saudi fraternal relations have been strengthened in economic, cultural, and defence fields and these unique relations will continue to expand and deepen for joint action on bilateral and regional issues.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday announced that Orange Line train in Lahore will start working from December 10.
The project, started in October 2015 by PML-N government, was supposed to be completed in 27 months.
The court halt the work on some sites of the mega project as a case was being heard.
After PML-N Imran Khan led PTI took reigns of the government and it was hoped that the project would soon be completed but government could not open it for public despite announcing dates for its opening.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore, PM Imran Khan announced that the project would be completed and they would open it for public on December 10.
Meanwhile, The government is reaching out to its allies as well as opposition parties in Sindh and the centre and a meeting between them and the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been scheduled for December 5 in the federal capital.
This was announced by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who held a joint press conference with Information Technology Minister and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui in Karachi. Qureshi started off the presser by thanking MQM-P, a party allied with the government, for standing by the ruling party in difficult times and for extending its cooperation in various situations. “Prime Minister Imran Khan took charge when the country was facing internal economic challenges and we are all aware of that,” he said, adding that the in those difficult times, the premier approached friendly countries for assistance to avoid economic bankruptcy and scored a negotiated deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The foreign minister said that that the country’s economy is stable and the currency has gone up by Rs4-5 against the dollar due to foreign investments. “Economic indicators point towards the fact that we have stepped out of a crisis,” he said, adding that now the next big challenge was to convert this stability into economic growth so that the government can meet the expectations of the people that brought it to power.
He said that voters are well aware of the difficulties the government had to face and are aware of the role played by PTI and MQM-P to tackle challenges in Sindh. “Voters across the country are well-informed and Karachi is one of the most politically mature cities because when the people of the metropolis are presented with the facts, they are wise and can sift the truth from false narratives,” he added.
Qureshi said that the government and its key ally have reviewed the situation and come to a similar conclusion, whether it is the national scenario, economic scenario or the local government situation.
He said that it is because of these facts that the prime minister has invited its allies and opposition parties to hold a meeting with him in December. “We discussed this today and received an educational input, therefore, we have decided that our talks in December can help us make more informed decisions which are beneficial for our people,” he added.
Addressing the media, Siddiqui appreciated the foreign minister’s visit to Karachi and his willingness to hold a meeting with party members.
He said that MQM-P’s policy on national issues is clear and the party has always extended unconditional support in this regard. “MQM-P will always extend its support to democratic governments. We will not only continue our journey of cooperation but will now quicken its pace,” he added.
Talking about the situation in Karachi, the IT minister said that various cities of Sindh have been facing economic terrorism for the past 11 years and are in dire need of immediate moral, political and legal support. “Sindh’s cities, especially Karachi, have sacrificed more than their obligations and the metropolis’ contribution alone in the sales tax is 89 per cent,” he said, adding that these numbers show how willing Sindh is to fulfill its responsibilities towards the country. “Karachi provides sustenance for the entire country. The government should focus on running Karachi so that the country’s economy can run too since the metropolis is the economy’s engine,” he further said.
The IT minister said even though the government faced multiple challenges in the start, the economy has been stabilised. He said that the only request of the people of province is that they be given due attention and the party’s demands are in line with the problems it has witnessed in the past 30-35 years. “The government is working on those, but the pace is so slow that on many fronts it does not seem any work is being done,” he added.
Earlier in the day, a high-level delegation of the PTI comprising FM Qureshi and Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, visited the headquarters of coalition partner, MQM-P. The current overall political situation, local government election, Karachi and Hyderabad development package announced by federal government were discussed in the meeting.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the government’s major plans to tackle the growing threat of smog and pollution in all mega cities of the country especially in Lahore by declaring that for the first time in the country’s history, a government was taking drastic steps to quell health hazard impacts of ‘the silent killer’.
Addressing a press conference here, the prime minister named pollution caused by transport as one of the major reasons for environmental pollution, saying that the government had decided that till end of year 2020, Euro 5 fuel would be imported, while the recent fuel would be converted into Euro4. He expressed the hope that with such steps, 90 per cent pollutants in the air could be reduced.
The prime minister further apprised that the local oil refineries would be given three year time period to improve and convert their fuel technology on modern lines.
Furthermore, negotiations were underway with the vehicles manufacturing companies for the introduction of electric vehicles, he said, hinting that in January 2020, the government would also lay down an incentive policy in this regard.
He said the public buses running on dirty fuels and spewing hazardous smoke in the major cities were the major reason for pollution and smog, so they would be gradually replaced with hybrid or electric-run vehicles.
Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, PM’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and ministers were also present.
The prime minister observed that stubble burning during the winter season also add to the environmental woes. The government would import machinery worth Rs30 billion to help control the issue, he added.
Moreover, steel furnaces and brick kilns were also adding to smog, and the government would also make the owners of these kilns to introduce modern zigzag techniques, he said.
The prime minister said stubble burning in the neighbouring areas of India was also a reason of intensified smog in Lahore.
A 60,000 kanal area of land had been identified for urban forestry in Lahore and its suburbs, he prime minister said, adding such steps would have slow and gradual impact and people would feel their positive impact within a short span of time.
He observed that major cities like Karachi, Peshawar and Rawalpindi were also facing same challenges and the environmental pollution would go worst if corrective measures were not taken.
“The issue existed for so many years, but for the first time a government is taking effective and practical steps to control it,” he added.
The pollution level in different cities of the country had intensified and the cities like Lahore and Gujranwala were among the world’s top areas affected largely by pollution and smog, he said.
He regretted that about 70 per cent trees were felled in Lahore. The prime minister said the pollution and smog had been affecting people in Lahore for quite some time and no one was realizing how serious threat it could pose to the health of grown up and children by giving rise to different respiratory diseases.
To have an effective strategy, there should be monitoring centers to keep a check on the air quality, he said, adding Lahore had two such centers and now their number would be increased to 30 which would help give accurate data.
To a question, he said fuel like Euro4 was considered as clean fuel. Now the people would have to decide whether they wanted to pay a bit more for this fuel or put the lives of their kids in danger. The prime minister said climate change had negative impact on all human beings, which could be countered through international efforts.
Responding to a query, the prime minister said with the grace of Almighty, Pakistan was now out of the economic crisis and they would now be focusing on the economic growth, creation of employment opportunities, construction and after every six months, the countrymen would feel the difference.
He further maintained that when the value of rupee drops by 35 per cent against the US dollar, it can give rise to inflation, however, he expressed the confidence that the nation had been through this difficult time and now moving towards economic stability and turn around leading to ‘good times’.
The prime minister also appreciated his economic team and said today, even the World Bank chief had been all praise for Pakistan. Rupee was being strengthened, stock market was showing robust trends, and there was flow of foreign investment and continuous growth.
The prime minister said his government had inherited the biggest ever fiscal deficit and whopping debt and its political opponents were expecting that it would succumb to such challenges within months which did not happen.
“The government has been facing such mafia from the day first,” he added.
“That mafia has one concern as to how to save their embezzled wealth and ill gotten assets. They are not interested in Pakistan. They had gathered around Maulana (Fazl) who had arrived Islamabad to conquer it. But rather, he was coming to distribute diesel permits. All the mafia that surrounded him even did not know what were the reasons of Maulana’s arrival,” he added.
He said, this mafia then rushed to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court. They had one objective in their failed efforts; that was to destabilize the government. They had only one fear that they would no longer be able to eat that ‘halwa’ and feared that if the government succeeded in its economic and development policies, their antics and business would be ended forever, he added.
About reforms in Punjab province, the prime minister maintained that these had never been undertaken in the history and for such achievements, they could not waste Rs50 billion on advertisements like the past rulers.
Defending the chief minister of Punjab and the recent reshuffle in the bureaucracy, he said Buzdar was a gentle man who was not misusing the public money on his personal security.
The prime minister said he along with the chief minister considered these
changes after three months consultations with the retired and experienced bureaucrats.
“All these steps are being taken to improve governance in the province,” he added.
About the issue of former convicted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s treatment abroad, he said the concerned medical board had submitted its report citing the critical condition of the patient and upon its basis and on human empathy, he also convinced the whole cabinet. He told the mediamen to wait for the medical reports of Nawaz Sharif which would clear the situation. About Kashmir issue, the prime minister said it had been never highlighted in the past the way his government was taking it up.
To a question regarding non-payment of salaries and dismissal of media men from their jobs, the prime minister said it was a big injustice when an employer did not pay for his employees and asked his special assistant on information to look into the issue. To another query regarding a letter sent by Opposition leader in the National Assembly Mian Shahbaz Sharif in which according to media reports he had proposed three names for the next Election Commissioner of Pakistan, the prime minister informed that he did not go through such correspondence yet. The prime minister to another question said the Supreme Court had not mentioned anything about the government’s legal team in its short order at the conclusion of a case on the grant of extension to the army chief.–Agencies