KARACHI: In what appears to be a setback for his coalition partner Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan that has been demanding a new province to be carved out of Sindh, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that he was against creation of another province in Sindh.
Mr Khan hinted at introduction of a new local government system in the province on the pattern of the LG system of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The prime minister had a busy schedule in Karachi after he landed at the old terminal of Quaid-i-Azam International airport in the evening. He wrapped up his visit within a few hours after meeting members of the business fraternity as well as leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and coalition parties and chairing a couple of meetings on development projects.
PM says new LG system will make demand for new province redundant; vows he won’t ‘spare thieves’
During his interaction with participants of different meetings, he blamed previous governments for the current economic crisis for which he “cannot spare the thieves” and termed the members of his recently-appointed economic team “experts”. At the same time, the prime minister “requested” the business fraternity to benefit from the amnesty scheme.
The most crucial political stance of PM Khan came during a meeting with leaders of the PTI and coalition parties at the Governor House where he categorically turned down the demand for a new province to be carved out of Sindh.
“The PTI is against creation of another province in Sindh. After introduction of the PTI’s new local bodies system there would be no need for any kind of division in the province,” the prime minister said, according to a statement.
The meeting was attended by Federal Minister Faisal Vawda, Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Khurram Sher Zaman, Haleem Aadil Sheikh, Ashraf Qureshi, former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s Sadruddin Shah Rashdi, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi and Nand Kumar and others.
The statement said that the meeting also discussed the political situation of Sindh and the ongoing federal-funded development projects in the province.
Earlier, the prime minister held a meeting with leaders of the business fraternity where he sought their support for poverty alleviation and suggestions for policies bringing “ease of doing business.”
“Poverty alleviation is my mission for which the traders community must extend their support,” the PM said in the meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and other members of the business fraternity.
“I want my government to be acknowledged as the most trade- and investment-friendly government. It was corruption during the previous government which brought on the economic crisis and marred our economy. We have inherited a fragile economy. I cannot let the plunderers off.”
Mr Khan said, “The government wants the private sector to play a key role in bringing about economic stability. The government would extend all-out facilities to promote investment and business activities. Bringing ease of doing business, reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue and creation of a conducive and friendly atmosphere for the business are among the government’s foremost priorities.”
‘Tough time ahead’
Later, addressing a fund-raising event for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, the prime minister warned about tough time ahead but sounded confident that it would be over within the next three months.
“Let me tell you that another two or two and a half months are tough for the economy,” he said. “And it is obvious because corruption was rampant during the previous governments and the way our leaders in the past ruled the country, this crisis was eminent. But it would be over. I assure you it would be over within next three months and we would start stabilising and thriving.”
Mr Khan said the crisis tested nations and it was high time for the people of Pakistan to face these challenges with unity. He referred to the European countries which were devastated by the World War but the people of those countries never lost hope and returned to peace, development and prosperity through their resolve and willingness.
“I assure you that what I have seen in nine months [as prime minister], this country is a blessing by all means. It’s my faith that this crisis would not stay more than two or two and half months and in the years to come Pakistan would become a country where people other parts of the world would come to find employment” he said to receive applause from the crowd.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019