ISLAMABAD: Meeting its commitments made with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) released 572 Pakistani prisoners on Friday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan lauded the step taken by the UAE government for further strengthening bilateral ties with Pakistan and thanked UAE Prince Mohammad bin Zaid. “We give respect to the gesture shown by the UAE government and this step of the UAE government will further cement fraternal relations between the two countries,” the prime minister said in a statement released by the PM Office.

Like the UAE, the government of Saudi Arabia has also announced that it will release over 2,000 Pakistani prisoners detained over petty crimes.

During his first visit to Pakistan in February, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had announced that his country would release 2,000 Pakistani prisoners soon.

The prince made this announcement when, during a ceremony, Prime Minister Khan drew his attention to the issue and hoped that the Saudi authorities would make arrangements in this regard.

The Foreign Office, during its weekly briefing on Thursday, said that Saudi authorities had started the process of repatriation of Pakistani prisoners.

At a recent meeting, the federal cabinet approved funds for repatriation of Pakistani prisoners from Malaysia.

Air chief meets PM

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan called on Prime Minister Khan at the PM Office to discuss professional matters pertaining to the Pakistan Air Force.

The prime minister chaired a separate meeting on coal reserves in the country, where he said that the world’s seventh largest coal reserves were located in Tharparkar, Sindh, but it had been ignored by the previous governments.

The meeting was told that Thar mines had 175 billion tonnes of coal and it was expected that the desert region had 50bn tonnes of oil and 2,000 cubic feet of gas reserves.

The prime minister was told that Thar Coal Block–II project had been completed and the work on next phase had started, while coal-based power plants were being installed in the country to meet the growing electricity demand.

He was informed that Thar Coal Block-II would produce 5,000MW electricity in 2025 for the next 50 years. The prime minister directed the federal authorities to provide all-out support to the Sindh authorities for the success of Thar coal project.

Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal met Prime Minister Khan and discussed with the latter issues related to the province. The meeting took place amid a recent spate of terrorist attacks in Balochistan and the prime minister’s dissatisfaction over the failure of the provincial bureaucracy to redress peoples’ problems.

Prime Minister Khan discussed recent terrorist attacks in Balochistan and reaffirmed his resolve to take stern action against those involved in these incidents.

The chief minister raised different issues, including release of funds the federal government had pledged for 41 development projects of Balochistan under its Public Sector Development Programme.

Saleem Shahid from Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2019