Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to Dr Babar Awan during the meeting on Monday.—PPI
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to Dr Babar Awan during the meeting on Monday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Amid media reports about a possible ‘deal’ between the government and the opposition, Prime Minister Imran Khan has again declared he will never compromise on graft cases against the former rulers to strike any deal with them.

In a meeting with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Babar Awan at Prime Minister Office on Monday, the premier said there would be “no compromise, no deal”, according to the ruling party’s media office press release.

Read: 'No corrupt person will get NRO,' PM Khan vows in address to the nation

Mr Khan expressed satisfaction over the accountability process, saying there was no political interference in the accountability system for the first time in the country. He vowed that the accountability process would continue.

Interestingly, federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday hinted at some development in the “ongoing talks for a deal” with the PML-N in future, while Adviser to the PM on Finance Hafeez Shaikh had separately told the media that he wanted that the “accountability process should not affect businesses”.

PM, Babar discuss prevailing political situation, constitutional issues

The PTI press release quoted Mr Awan as saying that those spreading reports about “deal” would be disappointed. He said the positive results of the accountability process would soon come before the nation.

The prime minister had on different occasions in the past announced that he would never permit any National Reconciliation Ordinance-like deal with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and other opposition leaders facing corruption cases.

The railways minister, however, had said: “Shahbaz Sharif has appeared again in the market and he is in a good bargaining position, as he is an expert in resolving tricky issues through dialogue. Shahbaz is in contact.” He also claimed that a reshuffle was expected in the federal cabinet soon.

While political circles have been talking about possibility of the formation of a national government, Mr Rashid said there was nothing [concrete] about the national government though everything was possible in politics.

The Prime Minister and Mr Awan also discussed the prevailing situation in the country with particular reference to the legal and constitutional affairs. Mr Khan ‘consulted’ Mr Awan on his upcoming visit to the US and Saudi Arabia.

However, Mr Khan said currently he was focused on Kashmir cause and his address to the UN General Assembly. Mr Awan termed the government’s aggressive strategy on Kashmir a right step, saying that for the first time the case of Kashmir was heard around the world due to successful foreign policy of Pakistan.

New Balakot project

In a separate meeting, the prime minister reviewed progress on the multibillion New Balakot City project that had been launched over 12 years ago, but work on it remained stalled due to several reasons.

The project was announced after the 2005 earthquake destroyed almost 95 per cent infrastructure of old Balakot municipal area, spread over 1,400 acres.

The New Balakot City project was launched on July 6, 2007 and was supposed to be completed in July 2012 with an estimated cost of Rs13.5 billion, including Rs1.5bn for land acquisition, which had already been paid to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government by the federal government.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt-Gen Mohammad Afzal, KP Chief Secretary Mohammad Saleem and other senior officials.

The prime minister was apprised about the project and the way forward to address legal, administrative and financial issues that affected its progress. A strategy to transform the new city into a tourism hub and modern business residence city hosting local gemstones mining industry also came under discussion.

While appreciating the efforts for project’s revival, Mr Khan asked the relevant authorities to adopt the public-private partnership model for development of the new city.

He said its location had a huge potential for attracting local and international tourism and thus would contribute significantly to national economy. Highlighting the need for tapping the country’s huge potential in tourism sector, the PM said development of tourism hubs at various tourist sites would not only highlight country’s tourism potential but would also lead to creation of greater job opportunities for the people.

He said the settlement of claims must be given priority to ensure unhindered work on the project.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2019