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I can quit govt but won't give NRO: PM Imran Khan

PM Imran said he allowed the airing of PML-N leader Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s speech to know the severity of his illness

By Our Correspondent
September 23, 2020

I can quit govt but won't give NRO: PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday made it abundantly clear that he would prefer to step down than to giving NRO to corrupt politicians.

Chairing a federal cabinet meeting here, which reviewed key national issues and made decisions on certain matters, including discussion and presentation on the Anti-Rape Investigation and Prosecution Bill, Imran said he allowed the airing of PML-N leader Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s speech to know the severity of his illness.

The cabinet approved rationalization of pricing of 94 life-saving and other important drugs to ensure their availability and quality control. Advisers Babar Awan and Shahzad Akbar briefed the cabinet on how to control the menace of rape and ensure protection of women and children. The prime minister directed that the bill be immediately brought before the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.

I can quit govt but won't give NRO: PM Imran Khan

Briefing journalists about the meeting and replying to their questions, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz said circular debt, which was spreading like cancer, had increased to Rs2.6 trillion gripping the national economy.

He explained that when the PTI formed the government, the energy sector was mired in many issues, from generation to distribution. In the past, he said attention was paid to generation butnot to transmission and distribution. As a result, there were line losses and costly energy was being produced besides signing of LNG agreements, which had co-relation with the POL prices.

Shibli Faraz said circular debt had increased to Rs2.6 trillion gripping the national economy. PID

The minister also pointed out that during the PML-N government, the Nepra and not the government would recommend increases in power tariff and this would result in accumulation of circular debt, as the government was not ready to pay the political cost. He said certain election-related decisions also accentuated the issue.

The minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan was committed to providing relief to consumers in terms of power tariff and for this purpose, negotiations were being held with the IPPs to win some facilities within the framework of the past agreements, which could not be changed being a commitment. He said a comprehensive presentation on the energy sector would soon be given to the media on the energy sector. In view of fall in rates on the international market, the price of drug used for Covid-19 treatment was cut from over Rs10,000 to Rs8,400.

Replying to questions on further increases in drug prices, Dr. Faisal Sultan justified it by saying that the measure would ensure availability of medicines and ensure their quality for prices of certain medicines were not revised accordingly over the years and this left the phrama firms to stop or reduce production, leaving people with no choice but to go for pricier or substandard medicines. He also noted that 94 medicines also included those that had no substitute. He said the prices of medicines were rationalized, which were vital such as for BP, heart diseases and cancer.

Shibli said the cabinet deliberated on the proposed piece of legislation, shared by Adviser on Interior Shahzad Akbar on rape crime and it was decided that the matter needed to be looked into from various angles and there was no doubt that all the laws must be in line with the spirit of Islam but legislation also had to be made keeping in mind the present day realities.

He noted that it was so important that those involved in such heinous crimes must be awarded the harshest possible punishment. He added sex-related crimes were on the rise for the last four-five years but it was also possible these were being committed in the past but social media highlighted them more. The proposed bill, he explained, also envisaged ensuring sanctity and respect of the victim during investigation and making the law strict as the existing ones, had gaps, which went to the advantage of the offender.

He said the prime minister was very clear that the menace had to be combated with strictest punishment to the criminals. Shibli said FATF legislation was the last resort of blackmailing by the PML-N, on the failure of which Nawaz Sharif made such a speech at the APC. On the opposition's All Parties Conference and Nawaz Sharif's speech, the minister made it clear that the government had no problem with the All Parties Conference, while not a single word was uttered on the APC during the cabinet meeting. The minister contended that Nawaz Sharif fled the country under the pretext of health and his money laundering caused a lot of damage to Pakistan.