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Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad addresses a press conference on Saturday.—PPI
Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad addresses a press conference on Saturday.—PPI

LAHORE: Federal Mi­­nis­ter for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has ruled out the presidential form of government, terming the parliamentary system viable for the country.

He said he would request Asad Umar to remain part of the cabinet.

“Since the Constitution of this country was framed after great difficulty, we need to continue with the parliamentary system that is the best one. So I reject the reports about the presidential system,” he told reporters at a press conference here on Saturday.

Sheikh Rashid says ‘international conspiracies’ being hatched to stop ML-1 implementation

Talking about the recent cabinet reshuffle, the minister wondered why there was such a hue and cry over changing a couple of ministers by the prime minister. “Why is there so much noise on such a development? Asad Umar himself resigned to whom I will request to remain part of the cabinet,” he said.

The minister feared ‘int­ernational conspiracies’ being hatched to stop im­­plementation of the ML-1 (main line-1) — a project of the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor. “Inter­n­a­tional powers don’t want to see ML-1 and development of Pakistan. But despite all of this we will complete it by all means,” he said.

He said he had cancelled tenders for the procurement of new passenger coaches since the railways did nothing in the past except making such procurement, including locomotives.

He said the rail officials posted at a place for the past three years would be transferred soon.

Under a ‘conspiracy’, the railway was ignored and the preference was only given to bridges and roads. But it would not happen now and onward.

The minister said the ML-1 project would be signed during the prime minister’s visit to China this month (April 25 to 28). And after completion of ML-1, the train speed, which is now between 70 and 90km per hour, would be 160km per hour.

After inauguration of Jinnah Express last month, Imran Khan will inaugurate Sir Syed Express next month.

The minister claimed that there was 20 per cent increase in the number of passengers travelling by train. It never happened during the past 70 years. He claimed that after ML-1, the Pakistan Railways was set to start working on ML-2 and 3.

He said he would complete his target of running 40 new trains.

“I have so far launched 24 new trains within six months. Sixteen more are in the pipeline. Similarly, I would also increase number of freight trains from 8 to 20,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019