KARACHI: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood has said that leading businessmen and agriculturists had criticised the performance of the Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government in the presence of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa during recent meetings.

He added that following the meetings Gen Bajwa and other circles had given their proposals and the government was working on them.

“Work [on army chief’s proposals] is under way...it is a continuous process,” he said, according to a report posted on the Urdu News website on Wednesday.

According to the report, the army chief had been holding meetings with leading business and agriculture personalities even before his much-publicised meeting with the country’s tycoons, which was also announced by the Inter-Services Public Relations.

It said one such meeting was held at the National Defence University on Sept 17 in which businessmen associated with farm products and agriculture sector had met the army chief. Those present during the meeting were Razak Dawood, Adviser to the PM on Finance Hafeez Shaikh, Food Security Minister Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan, Kashmir Committee chairman Fakhar Imam, leading businessmen from Karachi and representatives of sugar mills, livestock, automobiles and other sectors.

The website claimed in its report that the participants of the meeting subjected the commerce and finance advisers to strong criticism in the presence of Gen Bajwa and demanded action against them.

Mr Dawood became anxious when some experts drew his attention to what they believed an unfavourable trade policy of the government and held him responsible for the losses, it added.

When contacted, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad president Khalid Mehmood Khokhar said that besides targeting the federal cabinet members, the participants also criticised the government’s sugar policy as they viewed that cotton and allied industries were on the verge of destruction because of the favours given to the sugar industry.

Another leading agriculturist confirmed that the meeting discussed export of farm products as well as production of cotton, rice and sugar.

According to the report, Mr Dawood responded to the criticism and said that agriculture had become a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment, which meant the role of the federal government and its commerce and industries ministries had ended.

After listening to their criticism and grievances, the army chief had assured the participants that their proposals would be implemented.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2019