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October 19, 2019

I do not give a fig about dharna: Imran

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October 19, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, not giving a fig about Azadi March and sit-in by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, made it clear that there was nothing to worry about the matter and asserted none would be allowed to exploit the students of seminaries for political motives.

He said that the protests and demonstrations are routine matter in democracies. He said that the seminary students are being misguided on the Azadi March. He said that those cannot be the well-wishers of the country who speak against the army.

He expressed these views while talking to religious scholars (Ulema and Mashaikh), representing various schools of thought. The religious scholars met Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday and appreciated his efforts for representing the Kashmir issue at the world fora and his bid to facilitate dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

He pointed out that a committee had already been formed to engage with the JUI-F. He also maintained that the government would ensure the rule of law. The prime minister apprised the religious scholars of the government’s policy of mainstreaming the seminaries, introducing modern education and establishment of labs there. He added the government wanted both religious as well as modern day education at seminaries. The scholars welcomed the government’s efforts in this regard.

It was learnt that during the meeting, three issues -- Kashmir, the Ummah’s problems and the government’s reforms in religious seminaries – were mainly focused upn. However, interestingly, the proposed Azadi March of JUI-Fazl also came up briefly during the deliberations.

The prime minister took the scholars into confidence on his government’s policy on Kashmir, particularly in the wake of Indian illegal, immoral and unconstitutional actions in Indian Occupied Kashmir on August 5 and onwards.

Meanwhile, the government announced a committee headed by Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak to hold dialogue with JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, MNA Asad Umar, Minister for Education and Training Shafqat Mehmood, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri and Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Ellahi are the members of the committee.

He also spoke on his recent visits to Iran and then Saudi Arabia and informed the visitors that Pakistan had achieved significant success in pushing for easing out the ongoing tensions between Tehran and Riyadh. The Ulema lauded his endeavours on this front and insisted there must be unity and harmony among the Muslims.

The religious scholars also backed the government’s efforts for finding a political solution to the issue of Azadi March.

Among others, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Minister for Federal Education and Training Shafqat Mehmood, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noorul Haq Qadri, Prime Minister's special assistants Naeemul Haq, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Yousaf Baig Mirza were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday asked Passco to immediately release 1 lakh tons of wheat to Sindh and 1.5 tons to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so that the prices of wheat and flour could be stabilized as a top-level meeting reviewed the demand and supply of essential goods.

Prime Minister chaired the meeting here at the Prime Minister Office, which took stock of the prices of essential items, including wheat, sugar, ghee, pulses, onion and tomato, and how to control inflation and hoarding.

Among others, Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar, Adviser on Trade and Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Chief Ministers of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sardr Usman Buzdar, Mehmood Khan respectively, special assistants Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Yousaf Baig Mirza and provincial ministers attended the meeting.

The meeting was briefed about the prices and demand and supply of the daily use items. The forum reviewed the measures taken by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh on this count. The prime minister was told that both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa took satisfactory steps to ensure availability of wheat.

The prime minister directed the Economic Coordination Committee to immediately thrash out proposals for effective decision-making to ensuring stability in the rates of wheat and flour. He also directed for timely steps for availability of wheat, including its import.

He was informed that there had been increase in prices of flour and wheat because the government of Sindh could not procure wheat, causing disparity in its demand and supply, and this added to problems of the public.

Taking notice of this, the prime minister asked Passco to immediately release from its stock, 1 lakh tons wheat to Sindh and 1.5 lakh tons to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He also directed the provincial governments to make it sure that the grower was not subjected to exploitation and the middleman did not resort to (undue) profiteering. He asked for strict action against those elements, involved in artificial price hike.

The prime minister asked for establishment of market committees at tehsil level and these should be made fully active so that the elements involved in profiteering be taken to task and prices be controlled. He called for introduction of an application on ‘fair price’ so that consumers should be kept abreast of actual prices of essential items.

He laid emphasis on paying special attention on making the procedure from fields to market transparent and easy. He asked the provinces to devise well-coordinated mechanisms on this count within a week.

Under the Ehsas Programme, the prime minister said that the free supply of flour bags to the needy be started early. He also asked the Ministry of Industries and Trade to take steps for availability of essential goods at utility stores and there should be strict monitoring of prices.

The meeting also reviewed the shortage of seasonal vegetables and the prime minister directed for taking stock of the matter.