ISLAMABAD: In remarks that appear to negate the manifesto of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan’s pledge that his party would provide 10 million jobs to the youth after coming to power, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry has said that providing jobs to people is not a responsibility of the government.

“It is not the responsibility of the government to provide jobs to the people,” the minister said while speaking at the concluding session of the two-day Deans International Conference of Engineering Institutions here on Tuesday. The conference was organised by the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).

However, shortly after having delivered the remarks, Mr Chaudhry took to Twitter to say that his statement had been taken out of context. “[I am] astonished how every statement issued by me is made a headline without context.”

He added: “I said that the private sector and not the government provides jobs. The government has to create an environment where jobs are available. It shouldn’t be the case that everyone is looking for a government job.”

At the conference, the minister also disclosed that the government had decided to close down 400 government departments. He, however, did not name any of the departments concerned.

Minister takes to Twitter hours later to say his remarks were taken out of context

In its election manifesto, the PTI had promised that after coming to power, it would provide 10 million jobs and build five million housing units for the homeless in the country during its five-year term.

Three days ago, Punjab Housing Minister Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed said that providing five million housing units to the masses was a difficult task.

Mr Chaudhry said that not only in Pakistan but across the world governments were shrinking and now the people must realise that the government could not provide jobs to the masses.

“If the government provides jobs to the masses then the framework of the country’s economy will collapse,” the minister said, adding that it was the mentality of the 1970s that governments would provide jobs to the masses as now the private sector primarily provided jobs to people.

He said the government would not provide jobs directly to the masses, but would create an atmosphere in which the private sector would flourish and it would provide jobs to the unemployed youth.

In the past, Mr Chaudhry had himself said several times that 10 million new jobs would be created by the government for the youth and five million housing units would be built for the poor.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has bitterly criticised the PTI government for taking U-turns on several of the promises it made before coming to power.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the country had now entered an uncertain situation as the government was now backing out of its several promises and commitments.

She said the PTI government had pledged that it would not go to the International Monetary Fund to seek financial assistance, but now it was getting aid from the IMF.

She said the government had not only broken its promise of providing jobs to the unemployed youth, but also made 60,000 people unemployed.

“This government has now become a threat to national security,” she claimed.

“Only friends of Prime Minister Imran Khan are getting jobs in the government and not the common man,” she asserted.

Ms Aurangzeb said the entire opposition leadership had been put into jails and laws were being implemented through presidential ordinances and not through parliament.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019