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October 24, 2019

Army stands behind me: PM

Top Story

October 24, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday expressed his resolve not to cave into pressure from his political nemesis Maulana Fazlur Rehman who intends to mount the Azadi March on Islamabad later this month.

Imran Khan said the Pakistan Army stands behind him and it fully supports the government agenda, Geo News reported. He said the civil-military relations are based on trust and both enjoy this trust on each other. He said the country will be brought out of difficulties with combined efforts. He said he will never leave the country and he will bring the country out of difficulties.

The prime minister sees a conspiracy behind the JUI-F chief’s protest which, he said, is driven by a certain agenda. When asked has he got any proof of foreign agenda, he said there is no proof, but the timing of the march and regional situation suggest that there is Indian hand behind this.

"There is no question of my resignation and I will not resign. Dharna is agenda-based, and it has foreign support," senior journalist Irshad Bhatti quoted the prime minister as saying.

The prime minister was of the view that the JUI-F’s plan to protest has sent a wave of joy in India.

“I don’t understand what Maulana’s problem is,” he was quoted as saying in the meeting. “I don’t understand the agenda of the opposition.”

The premier acknowledged that inflation and unemployment remain a big problem which his government is trying to resolve. When his attention was drawn towards the opposition’s stance that the PTI had also staged a sit-in, Imran Khan said his dharna was not staged for nothing. He said he had proof of election rigging in four constituencies when he had staged the sit-in at the D-Chowk.

Asked about media restrictions on Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he said there was no ban on broadcasting the JUI-F chief’s interviews or press conferences.

The premier also said that his life and government would become easier if he gave NRO to opposition leaders.

Imran said he has directed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa to be prepared against any misadventure by India. He said India might repeat a Pulwama-like incident to divert the world’s attention from Indian atrocities in IOK. He said the government has asked the army chief to prepare the troops to retaliate in case of any misadventure from the Indian side. He said the COAS met with businessmen with his permission.

Meanwhile, the government allowed the proposed Azadi March with its firm belief in upholding democratic ideals if it takes place within the ambit of the law and Constitution.

A brief statement issued by the Prime Minister Office said that it was decided that the government would allow the proposed Azadi March if it takes place within the ambit of the law and the Constitution as interpreted in the decisions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The decision was made after a team, empowered to holding negotiations with the opposition, presented its recommendations to Prime Minister Imran Khan. The team was headed by Minister of Defence Pervaiz Khattak.

A government spokesperson said the decision was made as the prime minister believed in the democratic right to protest and the protesters would be allowed to carry out the march as long as the everyday life of citizens was not affected, as outlined by past judgements of the Supreme Court and the IHC.

While the government gave nod for the march, hundreds of containers have already reached the federal capital and the roads, leading to it, besides alerting the police. All the preparations required to cope with any unpleasant situation have been made.

The JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman had announced in June that his party had decided to hold an anti-government march to Islamabad to force the prime minister to bow out, dubbing the last year’s general elections as massively rigged.

The Maulana had first fixed October 27 as the date for the long march, but later deferred it till October 31, saying they would instead organise rallies on October 27 to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir, who would be observing a black day all over the world against Indian atrocities in Occupied Kashmir on that day.

Meanwhile, the prime minister while chairing a meeting to review progress on establishment of special economic zones (SEZs) directed to ensure that no effort was spared to ensure the colonisation of SEZs on war footing, addressing concerns relating to land availability, creation of jobs and wealth which in turn would help in turning the wheels of the economy.

Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, Adviser to PM Abdul Razak Dawood, SAPM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, SAPM Nadeem Babar, Chairman BOI Syed Zubair Haider Gillani and other senior officials were present during the meeting.

“We should remain competitive in providing incentives for transfer of technology and relocation of industries from China on the lines of the incentives being provided by other regional countries. All the initiatives for establishment of SEZs will be spearheaded by the federal government while taking the provinces fully on board,” he said.

The present government, he noted, had brought about significant improvements in the ease of doing business sentiments in the country. “In this spirit, there was a need to devise an effective awareness strategy to inform the people about the on-ground progress and emerging socio-economic opportunities set to be available after the operationalisation of SEZs enabling them to reap the benefits to the fullest,” the prime minister maintained.

The meeting was also apprised of the revisiting efforts in the existing legislative framework regarding the uniform treatment for all local and foreign investors to ensure 100 percent foreign ownership and repatriation of profit as well as dividends.

The new legislative framework is being devised to encourage exports, import substitution, and local manufacturing that would check unemployment, current account deficit and facilitate transfer of technology.

The meeting was briefed on the provision of utilities, revision in the existing legislative framework for incentivisation, facilitation of foreign and local investors and effective coordination between the centre and the federating units for smooth and effective implementation strategy.

It was informed that funds to the tune of Rs2.8 billion would be provided for provision of electricity to Bin Qasim, Dhabeji, Rashakai and Hattar SEZs during the financial year 2019-20 while four PC-I have already been submitted for facilitation in provision of electricity.

Moreover, additional arrangements are being made for provision of 110mmcfd Gas at the cost of 3.75 billion to different SEZs out of total 689mmcfd requirement till 2023. Work visa and visa on arrival facility for 67 countries has already been extended, the meeting was further informed.

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