Many cabinet members worried about inflation: PM

Updated 28 Jan 2020

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A DELEGATION of businessmen from Karachi calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.—APP
A DELEGATION of businessmen from Karachi calls on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.—APP

• Imran says mafia behind price hike will be taken to task
• Assures CM of giving priority to Sindh’s issues
• Visits Kingri House to discuss political situation with GDA leadership

KARACHI: Amid growing criticism against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government over rising prices of wheat flour, sugar and other key commodities, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday admitted that “many cabinet members were worried” about inflation and government repute but he told them “each and every mafia” behind the inflation would be taken to task.

Unlike the past, PM Khan, who landed at PAF Base Faisal in the afternoon, this time had a detailed meeting with Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah besides interacting with the leadership of coalition partners, party leaders, businessmen and industrialists and wrapped up his visit within a few hours after addressing a Kamyab Jawan Programme ceremony at Governor House and returned to Islamabad.

The PM’s latest visit to Karachi was seen as bringing thaw in relations between the centre and Sindh, as his assurances to the chief minister about resolving all issues on top priority hinted at the reconciliatory approach being pursued by the two sides.

An official statement issued by CM House after the meeting mentioned that Mr Shah informed PM Khan that some important projects of the province were pending in the planning and development ministry and that the ongoing federal government projects in Karachi were also moving slow. “The premier assured the chief minister that all these issues would be resolved on top priority basis … The prime minister said he would direct federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umer to expedite the process of Sindh government schemes. As far as the federal schemes going on slow in Karachi are concerned, the prime minister assured the chief minister that they would be completed at the earliest.”

The chief minister also highlighted the need for a change in strategy for polio eradication, mentioning that “due to frequent travels from and to Afghanistan, Balochistan and KPK the virus emerges again and again”, the statement added. “The prime minister said he would call the meeting of National Polio Eradication Taskforce meeting in which all the stakeholders would be invited to change and further strengthen the strategy.”

The breakthrough in the relations between the two governments, however, doesn’t bring an end to challenges being faced by Mr Khan and his cabinet, which the premier admitted later in the evening.

Addressing a ceremony to distribute cheques of loans among the youngsters under Kamyab Jawan Programme, the PM Khan referred to the recent challenges he had been facing and disclosed his plans to meet all of them. “Now I want to address you, youngsters, that this is the testing time for our nation but you don’t have to get panicked or worried,” he said and with a smile on his face he turned to share his recent experiences with his ministers including the admission of a few facts that had stirred criticism against the PTI government.

He said: “These days when I come to cabinet meetings I see many ministers visibly worried [citing] that the inflation is growing. People are saying this or that. So I tell them that don’t get panicked. One should learn from such times. And for inflation, let me tell you that we are not going to spare them who have created this [inflation] only to mint money. We would catch each and every mafia [behind inflation]. We would fight them all.”

The PM said he had pinned all his hopes on the youth of Pakistan and he wanted them to learn from the life of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] for success. He recounted his life dreams such as becoming a national cricketer, setting up a cancer hospital and helping in nation building by joining politics. “Now I have only one dream left. And that is to make this Pakistan that great country which was the dream of Quaid-i-Azma and Allama Iqbal. This is a testing time, I know. But it would not last forever. Great nations learn from the crises and then rise to success. Reforms take time [to succeed]. You [youngsters of Pakistan] need to learn from Quran and life of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]. He [PBUH] spent the most difficult 13 years of his life and then founded the state of Medina. The five years of the state of Medina were toughest ones but finally he left behind the state which changed the course of the world’s history.”

Visit to Kingri House

Later, PM Khan met Pakistan Muslim League-Function president and spiritual leader of Hur Jamaat, Pir Pagara Syed Sibghatullah Shah Rashdi, better known as Pir Pagaro, at Kingri House. The meeting concluded with the assurance from the premier to his coalition partner at Centre, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), which in return posed trust in his leadership for the continuity of their partnership.

A brief statement issued after the PM visit said the two sides discussed political issues and a joint strategy to meet the challenges. During the meeting, the statement said, the GDA leadership assured the PM of its support and vowed to move forward under his leadership.

A delegation of businessmen and industrialists also called on the PM where he sought their support for better and sustainable results. “We are in a war on corruption,” the statement quoted PM Khan as telling the delegation of businessmen and industrialists.

“We are passing through tough time but it was all due to mismanagement of the past governments. The reforms take time to deliver and sometimes it brings too many hurdles. But we are firm to resolve it and give a sustainable solution to our economy to grow. Frequent meetings with the business community are part of a strategy to seek guidance on our economic policy.”

A board of governors of Indus Hospital also met the PM and briefed him about performance and operation of the health facility, which provides free of cost treatment to patients. Mr Khan was of the opinion that the government encouraged assistance from the private sector to expand and spread healthcare facilities across the country.

A delegation of Pakistanis working in different sectors in Qatar, led by Arif Habib, also met PM and discussed ways to strengthen trade relations between Pakistan and Qatar, particularly investment and employment opportunities for the Pakistani skilled persons, adds APP.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2020