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Tuesday July 23, 2024

PM assures Bilawal PPP complaints will be resolved

Sources said Bilawal expressed his strong reservations and concern on ignoring the PPP in Punjab

By Ag App & Asim Yasin & Muhammad Anis
June 21, 2024
A delegation led by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari calls on PM Shehbaz on June 20, 2024. — PID
 A delegation led by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari calls on PM Shehbaz on June 20, 2024. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, in a meeting here on Thursday, expressed his party’s reservations on several issues before Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, according to sources privy to the development.

Bilawal complained despite being a major ally of the government, the PPP was being ignored and not being taken into confidence on matters related to the federal government, especially in the budget-making process and also in Punjab.

Sources said Bilawal expressed his strong reservations and concern on ignoring the PPP in Punjab and non-implementation of an agreement reached with his party during the government formation talks.

Sources said most of the demands and issues of PPP were related to development projects for Sindh and Public Sector Development Projects.

According to sources, PM Shehbaz Sharif assured the PPP chairman of addressing the key ally’s reservations. As per the sources, the PPP chief also assured the premier that his party would help the federal government pass the federal budget from parliament.

It also emerged that both sides discussed the PPP’s inclusion into the federal cabinet and power-sharing in Punjab during the meeting, which was also attended by senior leaders.

Federal ministers Ishaq Dar, Rana Sanaullah, Attaullah Tarar, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Ali Pervaiz Malik and Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb attended the huddle.

From the PPP, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Khursheed Shah and Sherry Rehman participated in the meeting.

Commenting on the meeting, PPP leader Senator Saleem Mandviwalla said the Bilawal-led party agreed to support the PMLN-led federal government to the extent of Finance Bill 2024-25 for which it was in contact with the finance minister. However, both sides needed to sort out some political matters, he added.

Separately, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, while speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, advised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership to apologise to the nation for writing a letter to IMF and for desecrating the memorials of martyrs on May 9. He asked whether the activists and leaders of PTI had reached the GHQ and Corps Commanders’ House mistakenly on May 9.

Asif said it was also a matter of record that the PTI founder had said that the country’s nuclear assets were not in safe hands. “He made those remarks only to appease the European countries,” he said adding that it was the Pakistan Army which safeguarded the country’s nuclear assets. Khawaja Asif said PTI’s Omar Ayub Khan, in the past, used to shower praises on Nawaz Sharif, Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz.

Aslam Ghumman, a parliamentarian from the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council, questioned how a government installed based on form 47, could take the country forward. He said he was ashamed of watching the interview of Shehbaz Sharif with the Chinese media where he was begging for Chinese assistance.

Rai Hassan Nawaz said he secured over 150,000 votes and won with a margin of 64,000 votes even though he could not run his election campaign as he was booked in over two dozen cases. He said those sitting on the government benches should be ashamed of taking oath as MNAs after being elected fraudulently on the basis of Form 47.

Another SIC parliamentarian Muhammad Mobin Arif said those elected on the basis of Form 47, were not true representatives of the people. Maulana Nasim Ali Shah, another PTI-backed MNA, expressed his serious concerns over the increase in incidents of terrorism in the Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz Sharif said the government was bringing about reforms in the energy sector to reduce electricity tariffs. He was talking to a delegation of foreign experts in the energy sector, led by former Georgian prime minister Nika Gilauri, which called on him at the PM House. The PM said circular debt, line losses and electricity theft were the major challenges in Pakistan’s energy sector. He said privatisation and outsourcing of power distribution companies were the top priority of the government. “In this regard, the government desires to take benefit from the Georgian experience.” He expressed his government’s desire to promote alternative energy sources, particularly solar energy, and reduce reliance on expensive energy sources. He said the government would also promote public-private partnerships in the energy sector.

Separately, PM Shehbaz Sharif while lauding the revamped National Emergencies Operation Centre (NEOC), equipped with multiple satellite feeds and artificial intelligence tools, expressed the hope that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) would prove to be a safety wall for Pakistan against the impacts of climate change.

“Due to climate change, Pakistan is in the red zone and among the top ten vulnerable countries. After this achievement, I have no doubt that the NDMA, in coordination with provincial PDMAs, will become the safety wall for Pakistan,” the PM said during his visit to the NEOC here along with the federal ministers and secretaries.

He praised NDMA Chairman Lt-Gen Inam Haider Malik for realising his dream of focusing on the capacity building and human resource development of the authority. He said the 2022 floods had inflicted a $30 billion loss on the country, which would take years to overcome as the federal government alone had spent Rs100 billion for the rehabilitation of affected population, besides the funding from provinces and aid from the friendly countries.

The prime minister asked the NDMA to ensure close coordination with the provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and advised procurement of equipment through coordination to avoid duplication. He told the gathering that the federal government had allocated Rs80 billion for the promotion of information technology, besides signing an agreement with Huawei for the training of 300,000 Pakistani youngsters in IT (Information Technology) annually.

In a related development, the prime minister met a ‘Google for Education’ delegation, led by its Managing Director Kevin Kells. He expressed his government’s resolve to promote education, saying that imposing an education emergency showed the government’s seriousness in promoting the sector. He said the government was taking steps to increase the capacity of the country’s youth through modern technology. The delegation comprised ‘Google for Education’ representatives from eight countries. The PM welcomed Google’s decision to establish manufacturing plants of chromebooks in Pakistan and appreciated the signing of the letter of intent between Google for Education and Ministry of the Federal Education to promote education in Pakistan.

Separately, PM Shehbaz Sharif appreciated the Capital Development Authority and Islamabad Capital Territory administration for effectively carrying out a cleanliness drive during Eidul-Azha.