ISLAMABAD: Two days after making changes in his cabinet, Prime Minister Imran Khan presided over a meeting of senior members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, coalition partners and newcomers in his government team at his Banigala residence on Saturday, directing them to devise a strategy to provide maximum relief to people.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, the newly-appointed Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said Mr Khan set “targets and responsibilities” to the government’s new economic team headed by Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to bring the country out of “difficulties”.
She said the prime minister advised his newly-appointed adviser on finance and his economic team to come up to people’s expectations by lessening their hardships.
Omar Ayub given additional charge of petroleum ministry; Firdaus hopes Asad Umar will be back soon
Mr Shaikh was not present in the meeting which was attended by Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar. The sources said that Mr Shaikh along with his team called on the prime minister separately.
Besides setting targets for the economic managers, Ms Awan said, different ministries had also been directed to devise strategies to provide relief to people, particularly in Ramzan.
She said the prime minister directed the ministers to formulate a plan to check price-hike in the holy month in coordination with the provinces.
Calling Dr Shaikh as “key player” and “opening batsman” of the government team, Dr Awan said the new finance adviser had been “empowered” to take steps for betterment of the country keeping in view the vision of the PTI and the prime minister.
She said after “discussing in detail” the issues being faced by people, the new economic team had been given “some targets.”
Dr Awan announced that Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan had been given the additional charge of the ministry of petroleum, which was previously held by Ghulam Sarwar Khan.
She downplayed the absence from the meeting of the key PTI leaders and the outgoing ministers or those whose portfolios had been changed. She said it was not a meeting of the federal cabinet.
Responding to a specific question about the absence of her predecessor Fawad Chaudhry from the meeting, Dr Awan said he had informed the leadership that he would be travelling to Lahore.
Asked if the PTI would take steps to placate former finance minister Asad Umar, she said he was a “family member” and part of the team and supported the vision of Imran Khan.
“He will be back soon,” the special assistant hoped.
Mr Umar, who had decided to quit the federal cabinet after the prime minister’s decision to change his portfolio, had left for Karachi after submitting his resignation.
Sources in the PTI told Dawn that others who had been invited to the meeting but remained absent were Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Shafqat Mehmood and Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari.
Dr Awan said the parliament and democracy could not flourish without the opposition, which should also come up with positive suggestions to resolve the public issues that had been created by it. She said the government wanted to take the opposition on board on all decisions of national interests, but at the same time warned the opposition against making any effort to “hijack” the parliament.
She said the meeting also discussed the agenda of the prime minister’s coming visits to Iran and China and set the priorities.
Dr Awan said the prime minister would visit Quetta on Sunday (today) to inaugurate the housing project and to offer his condolences to the bereaved families of those killed in the recent terror attack in Hazarganji market.
In reply to a question about the prevailing financial crisis in the media, she the media industry’s concerns were “valid”. She said she was getting briefings about the problems being faced by the media industry and said the problems would be solved through negotiations. “We are going to engage you (media) rather than confront you,” she added.
“When there will be consultation, we will hear something, we will say something and then there will be a win-win situation where your well-being will be our prime agenda,” she told journalists.
Dr Awan said the media played a major role in highlighting the vision of Imran Khan to change the country’s rotten system. In fact, she said, “we are the product of the media which is a big stakeholder.”
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019