Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Karachi on Monday for a day-long visit, during which he held a meeting with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.
During the meeting held at Governor House in Karachi, matters pertaining to federal government-funded development projects in the province especially in Karachi came under discussion, Radio Pakistan reported.
A statement issued by the Sindh chief minister's spokesperson stated that Shah in his meeting with Prime Minister Imran discussed various issues including development schemes, wheat shortage, locust swarm attacks, increasing polio cases and the threat of coronavirus to Pakistanis.
"The prime minister assured the chief minister that all these issues would [be] resolved on top priority basis," the statement said.
While the official statement was silent as to whether the issue of transfer of Sindh Inspector General of Police Kaleem Imam was discussed during the meeting, a source told Dawn that Shah raised the matter and the prime minister and chief minister reached an agreement. The source added that a new provincial police chief is likely to be appointed within the next 48 hours.
According to the statement, the chief minister while discussing development schemes told the premier that some important projects of the province were pending in the Planning and Development Ministry. He also complained that the ongoing federal government projects in Karachi were moving at a slow pace. At this, the prime minister said that he will direct Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar to expedite the process of Sindh government’s schemes. He also assured Shah that the federal government's schemes in Karachi will be completed "at the earliest".
While discussing the issue of locust swarms which have wreaked havoc upon standing crops in Sindh, Shah said it was high time to destroy them in the desert area where they have settled for breeding. Prime Minister Imran said that he will direct the plant protection department to take necessary measures and start aerial spray in the desert areas, according to the handout.
The issue of rising number of polio cases in the country was also discussed during the meeting. Shah suggested that the strategy will have to be changed in order to curb the spread of the crippling virus. The prime minister said that he will call a meeting of the National Task Force on polio eradication in which all stakeholders will be invited to give input to strengthen the anti-polio programme.
Chief Minister Shah while discussing the emergence of the deadly coronavirus in China pointed out that in Sindh, Chinese workers were engaged in Thar and Karachi and therefore a travel advisory for them and the people of Pakistan could be issued. According to the handout, the premier directed the National Institute of Health in Islamabad to develop its testing system and asked all the provinces to follow the World Health Organisation's advice and take precautionary measures to deal with the virus.
Prime Minister Imran said he will call a meeting on the issue of wheat shortage shortly, the statement said. The chief minister noted that the new wheat crop will be harvested starting from March, therefore the government has to make necessary arrangements to meet the national requirement for about one and a half months.
Earlier, upon his arrival to Karachi, Prime Minister Imran was received by Chief Minister Shah and Governor Ismail.
The premier also met a delegation of prominent business personalities in the city. Also in attendance at the meeting were Planning Minister Asad Umar, Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda, Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi and State Bank Governor Reza Baqir.
In the evening, Prime Minister Imran distributed cheques among youth during a ceremony for the government's Kamyab Jawan Programme.
He also attended a fund-raising event for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. Addressing the event, the premier recounted his efforts that led to the establishment of the charity hospital.
Accompanied by senior PTI leaders, Prime Minister Imran also held a meeting with chief of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) Pir Sibghatullah Rashidi, commonly known as Pir Sahab Pagara, at the Kingri House.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad, government's chief spokesperson Firdous Ashiq Awan said the presence of Chief Minister Shah at the airport to welcome Prime Minister Imran to Karachi reflected "positive progress towards the maturity of political process and political stability" and that the federal government welcomed it.
She said the premier during his meeting with Chief Minister Shah had expressed the hope that institutions will be strengthened in Sindh and "corruption and corrupt practices" will be eliminated from the province. The federal government stands ready to extend cooperation to the Sindh government to create a "corruption-free environment", Awan added.
The meeting between the prime minister and the chief minister comes weeks after Shah's meeting with Ismail, which was hailed as a positive sign by Karachiites. During the hour-long meeting, the chief minister gave his consent to "all proposals" pertaining to the city's development and vowed to "complete the job on the part of the provincial authorities on the centre-funded projects" in order to complete the mega schemes without any further delay, officials and sources had said.
The federal government, in recent weeks, has made attempts to improve its working relationship with the PPP-led Sindh government. Earlier this year, Planning Minister Umar had announced that despite "extreme differences" with the Sindh government, the Centre had decided to work with the provincial government to "improve citizens' lives".
The prime minister has expressed his desire to initiate projects in Karachi and last year had announced that a "comprehensive package" of Rs162 billion had been drafted for the city's development. Earlier this month, Umar had said that the prime minister would visit Karachi in February to inaugurate multiple development projects.
With additional reporting by Imtiaz Mugheri.