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February 2, 2020

Reduce prices to relieve people’s pain: PM

February 2, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday directed the provincial governments to take steps on war footings to address the factors causing inflation, and profiteering and hoarding must be checked properly as people are worried over these issues.He reminded his team that they had not formed the government to enjoy official facilities but to change the system, identifying the gaps and filling them to the relief of masses.

Special Assistant to PM on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said this at a news conference after Prime Minister Imran Khan presided over a meeting of the party leadership. The forum took stock of the current political and economic situation and ways and means to providing relief to people.

The meeting decided to fulfil the promises and commitments made to the government allied parties. The prime minister emphasised that the PTI had come to power to ensure provision of rights to people, putting aside all hurdles. He told the meeting about the feedback being received from the provinces on removal of glitches and hurdles for provision of relief to masses. He added that taking the provinces on board, the federal government would move ahead with its priorities.

Dr Firdous said the prime minister asserted that whosoever would come in the way of the government’s reforms agenda and to purge the state institutions of corruption and corrupt practices would be dealt with iron hand and there would be zero tolerance on this count.

The prime minister, she noted, reiterated his resolve to take forward to its logical conclusion the flagship programme of the government with regard to accountability. “The prime minister said that the promise made with the nation to recover the looted money will be fulfilled at all costs, be they TT Sharifs or beneficiaries of fake accounts,” she explained.

The meeting was informed by the prime minister that black sheep in the system causing gaps to exploit masses to their benefit would not be spared and no hurdle in the process of accountability will be tolerated. The meeting was told that two senior officers at Quetta and Torkham collectorats had been suspended and the FIA and FBR have been tasked to hold inquiry for various irregularities, including wheat smuggling to Afghanistan.

Imran Khan asked the party leadership down to district, tehsil and even street level should pinpoint wrongdoing and irregularities in creation of artificial crisis of essential commodities.

The special assistant said the meeting was informed about mafias involved in profiteering, hoarding and adulteration. Dr Firdous said the meeting was informed about the action taken against the elements involved in the recent flour crisis and that the Punjab government had fined the responsible people and also suspended the officials involved in creating the crisis. It was also decided that further decision about Nawaz Sharif will be taken after examining his medical report.

The premier said such an inspector general of police will be appointed in Sindh who will be free from political influence.

Referring to the meeting’s deliberations on Kashmir issue, she said that the prime minister emphasised that Kashmir remained the government’s topmost priority and he directed the participants to organise events to mark the Kashmir Solidarity Day. He underscored the need for properly highlighting the Kashmir issue in the media and exposing the real face of India as a country involved in state of terrorism against the people of Kashmir, usurping their religious, political, economic and other basic rights by putting them under siege and curfew since August 05 last year.

She said the prime minister appreciated the role of media on Kashmir issue and also urged it to be partner in this movement for freedom of the Kashmiris and take it forward, saying the real face of India should be exposed through the media. The youth in particular, she added, should unmask the cruel face of India through social media and emphasised that the media be the government partner in the ongoing crusade for awareness and pushing the drive for the realisation of the right to self-determination of Kashmiris.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an interview with Anadolu that diplomatic efforts by Pakistan had helped reduce tension in the Middle East following the recent US-Iran conflict and called for further efforts to seek a permanent solution of the issue.

“After the missile attack in Saudi Arabia on the oil facility, Pakistan played its part. We spoke to Saudi Arabia, we went to Iran, spoke to the US last September, October. And actually, we feel we played our part bringing down tensions. But of course there has to be some more for a permanent solution. At the moment, things are still tense. But for the time, I feel that we have averted war,” the prime minister said.

He said there was a time when it seemed that there could be a conflict. “But at the moment, it looked as if things were cooling down. However, I think more efforts are needed and we will be trying our best,” he said.

Speaking about the Pak-Turkish relations, he said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to visit Islamabad by mid-February and hoped the visit would further strengthen the brotherly relationship between Islamabad and Ankara. He said both the countries had very close government to government relationship.

The premier said Pakistan was grateful for the way Turkey stood with the people of Kashmir. He said the statement by President Erdogan on the atrocities in Kashmir by a fascist BJP government was encouraging.

“So, our relationship every way is getting stronger,” he remarked.

The premier said Erdogan was expected to bring along various business houses and investors who would meet their Pakistani counterparts with an aim to enhance the trading relationship. He said Turkey could help Pakistan in many sectors including mining. He said Pakistan also desires technology transfer from Turkey in various areas.

To a question, the prime minister said Pakistan would also like to do something to commemorate 100 years of the Khilafat Movement this year. Regarding his government’s efforts on economic front, he said his team had curtailed the current account deficit by almost 75 percent.

“The rupee has stabilised, confidence in our economy is growing, while the stock market has gone up. We have a big jump in our foreign investment. So, the country is stable right now. Now, it is a question of keeping it stable. We are out of the big crisis which we had inherited,” he said.

Imran Khan said the next challenge for the government is to bring down inflation and start growth in the country by focusing on the affordable housing and employment sectors. He said the government was improving governance system and ringing ease of doing business in which the country had already jumped up by 28 points. He said Pakistan would become a hub of investment if it continued on the same direction.

Highlighting his government’s efforts to tackle the challenge of climate change, Imran Khan said the government would plant 10 billion trees in the next four years and had decided to change the energy mix and 40% would be renewables in the next 10 years.

About the ongoing human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), he said there was a danger what India had done in Kashmir, would not die down. “There is going to be violence in Kashmir. There will be violence because whenever they lift the curfew, people will come out protesting against it. And when they will protest, India have 900,000 troops, which will use violence against these citizens. And we feel that this will spill over to Pakistan. And that is why the UN should act,” he remarked.

Imran Khan said what was happening in India particularly after the passage of new citizenship law was what exactly happened in Myanmar when they first started the Registration Act. He said it would polarise India because not just the Muslims but other minorities would also stand up against it.

The premier said Bangladesh was already worried because in Assam they deregistered almost two million people.

To another question, the premier hoped that the coronavirus would be contained.

“We pray for China because it is awful what they must be going through there. So, and of course, Pakistan is extending all help possible,” he stated.

Talking about CPEC, he rubbished the notion that Pakistan was getting into a debt trap of China and hoped that in their upcoming visit, Pakistan would involve the Turkish delegation in using CPEC for further connectivity besides hoping for Turkish involvement this CPEC.

Regarding Afghan peace, Imran Khan reiterated Pakistan’s stance against use of force to resolve the issues and resolved to try its utmost to avoid any further conflict in the region.

“I feel Pakistan’s role will be now to put out fires to play the role of conciliation, getting people together rather than joining any conflicts,” the prime minister remarked.