Resignations power will be shown soon: Mayarm; Absconders are too coward to resign: PM
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said those fleeing abroad do not have courage to tender resignations from the assemblies.
Presiding over the federal cabinet meeting here on Tuesday, he said he was ready to resign as premier ‘tomorrow’ if the looters, Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari and Fazlur Rehman return the looted national wealth.
However, in a tit-for-tat reply, Pakistan Muslim League-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz told the premier to be patient and he would come to know soon what resignations mean. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz, when asked about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement about tendering resignation during a press briefing on the decisions made at the cabinet meeting, he parried the question, though asked twice.
“The real question for you is to ask the opposition as to what happened to their resignations, as the January 31 deadline has already passed,” the minister quipped.
The minister said the problem of land grabbers was also discussed in the meeting and the forum was informed that operations were continuing against illegal occupants of the state land including those who had encroached upon the railways land.
He noted Railways Minister Azam Swati was working on the retrieval of the railways land and he was further instructed to get recovered the government assets.
The minister said land grabbing had weakened the rule of law and also created a sense of insecurity among the public, especially the overseas Pakistanis while it was responsibility of the government to protect the state assets.
About construction sector, he said the government’s plan to boost construction activity was moving forward and over hundreds of thousands of housing units were being built under different housing projects. He said under a government’s worked out plan, people were getting loans from banks for low-cost housing units. He said that on the instructions of the State Bank of Pakistan, banks had come up with packages for building of homes and had allocated five per cent or Rs378 billion of their loan portfolio for home building. He said the banks were giving loans on five to seven per cent mark-up for the construction of five-marla houses and the loan limit was set at Rs3.5 million, whereas the parliament had also passed the foreclosure law to protect the loans of banks.
The minister explained that the two important projects: Ravi riverfront urban development project and the Bundle island project were currently underway and as per briefing by the Ministry of Housing, about 35,700 housing units were being built presently while over 21,000 would be built in another six projects.
A mechanism, the information minister noted, had been developed to make it easy for the builders of houses, plazas and shopping malls to get no objection certificates and approval of maps without delay.
Replying to questions, Shibli said the government strongly believed in the media freedom and none would wish a channel (media) of communication between the government and the public was impacted.
The minister said that he himself had never questioned any media outlet about releasing any news report and had just one request to make that while filing a report, the government version should also be incorporated to give it a balanced outlook and it should not be one-sided.
Shibli said that criticism would definitely help a government improve itself on the basis of any weakness being pointed out.
The minister said that bitterness or bad taste neither the government would like to afford nor the media. “You should discharge your duties with responsibility, which you mostly do, and this will bring more maturity and strength,” he added.
About the opposition, he said that all knew what the opposition was up to, having their own priorities to focus on.
To a question about a section of the road closed for several months near Lal Masjid, the minister said that there had been a controversy going on for a long time; but matters were being thrashed out and steps taken would be durable and hopefully within a month or so, there would be a good news. “This is the federal capital, but there should not be any ‘no-go areas’ anywhere, which cause discomfort to public,” he added.
Regarding the constitutional amendment for open ballot voting in Senate elections, the minister said it was the government’s stated position that the Senate elections should be transparent and he and his colleagues made their way to the Senate by spending Rs25,690. “And we saw, how a party with six or seven votes, secured 20 votes,” he noted.
However, he added that the Senate elections in the past had been marred by sale and purchase of lawmakers’ votes and the opposition, through the charter of democracy, had also envisaged to ensure transparency in Senate polls.
The government, with this objective, he pointed out, approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan for guidance on this count and one option was the constitutional amendment which would show on which side the opposition stands and it would be exposed before all and sundry, if it opposed the amendment.
The money factor, Shibli argued, also marred the international perception regarding the elected public representatives that the Senate, being the symbol of the Federation, was the forum where people wanted to come on the basis of money.
The minister said the PTI had the moral justification to push for transparency, as it had sent home 20 of its lawmakers, who had charges of having received money for votes.
About the rejection of the recent bill for journalists’ rights, the minister said that the opposition parties had opposed it despite the fact they had representation in the House standing committee concerned that had approved it and traditionally, a bill approved by a House committee, did not face opposition.
He promised that after having numerical strength in the House, the government would not only again bring such a bill but also do some other legislation for the media persons for their rights, pay protection, job security and health cover.
The minister said his ministry had proposed to the government to provide health card like instrument for journalists as well.
About price-hike, he said that prices of many items had come down while others, which included mostly imported commodities like cooking oil, tea, pulses, powered milk and petroleum products, were witnessing hike owing to their increasing demand in the world market.
Prime Minister had been holding weekly meetings on inflation and price-hike was a temporary phenomenon, he added.
He said point to point reply would be sent to CPNE to their report on Wednesday and added there was exaggeration and some things were associated with the government, which was factually not true.
Earlier, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz told the media before leaving for Islamabad on Tuesday that criticism of the government was not for the sake of criticism. She said all political parties in the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had consensus on holding a long march against the “incompetent and selected government.
She said there was a problem with rising inflation due to which people were cursing the present government.
She asserted that PML-N will resign from the assemblies but after the decision of the PDM. She said all the parties in PDM believed in resigning from the assemblies. She said the country was handed over to a person who had done nothing during his entire life.
“The prime minister has learned nothing except targeting the opposition,” she said, adding that an incompetent person was brought to power.
Maryam further said the prime minister’s priorities were only to criticise the opposition, whereas solving public problems was not on his priority lists. She said only true leaders give answers to the people because they were chosen by public. She said inflation was rising every day and people were crushed. She said a mafia was imposed on the country, but this indifferent and incompetent government could not last long.
To a question, Maryam said the PDM’s meeting will be held tomorrow (Thursday), 2021 in which action plan will be worked out. She said if the PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto will talk about no-confidence motion and in-house change then the PDM will consider it. She said the meeting will also discuss the procedure for resignations and time-frame for the long march and sit-in.
Maryam said she didn’t think that the government will complete its five-year tenure. She said if anyone goes against the Constitution then it will be the duty of the opposition to speak, and this was why she was speaking.
Meanwhile, former information minister and PML-N Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb along with Deputy Secretary General Ataullah Tarar while talking to media on Tuesday outside NAB court said the present rulers have turned the whole country into a market of corruption.
She said the election was stolen and today their own members were leaving them. She said the Transparency report has unveiled the true face of the present rulers.
Marriyum said the government has not released the report of the probe commission on other incidents including sugar, flour and medicines, and the government has made the whole country a market of corruption.
She claimed that the current rulers have borrowed more loans than the loans borrowed during the five years of PML-N. She said despite this they have not laid a single brick.
Ataullah Tarar said Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar would nail the political coffin of the prime minister. He said whenever they held a press conference, these people increase the prices of petrol. He said that all the thefts made by the government have come to light.
Tarar said the days of the “self-proclaimed” prime minister were numbered. “The day was not far when bulldozers will be going towards Banigala,” he claimed.