MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has announced that Prime Minister Imran Khan will take a final decision regarding the establishment of south Punjab sub-secretariat soon after meeting elected representatives of the region.
Talking to the media here on Sunday, the minister said south Punjab should get separate recognition, as it was the wish of everyone that there should be progress over the sub-secretariat issue.
The PTI had contested the 2018 election with the pledge to make south Punjab a separate province, attracting a significant number of electables, mainly drawn from rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. However, the ruling party remained unable to decide the location of the sub-secretariat during the past 18 months though it formed a committee to take a decision after coming to power.
The sub-secretariat is described by the PTI as the first step towards establishing a new federating unit.
Mr Qureshi announced that a meeting in this regard was held in Lahore last week. In the meeting, which was presided over by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, “it was decided that progress should be made over this issue”, said the foreign minister.
He said PM Khan would soon meet parliamentarians of the region to discuss the establishment of the sub-secretariat.
“Differences are there regarding the establishment of the sub-secretariat in Bahawalpur or Multan and the Prime Minister will take a final decision,” he said.
However, Mr Qureshi made it clear that no suggestion was under consideration to make the sub-secretariat in Taunsa Sharif.
About political scenario, the minister said he did not see any in-house change in Punjab or at Centre. “The government will complete its tenure and the wish of the people who are not in power will not be fulfilled,” he said.
He also told the media that there was no outcome of the recent meeting between the leadership of the PML-N and the PTI’s ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.
About the PML-N supremo, Mr Qureshi claimed that court had allowed Nawaz Sharif to leave the country for treatment with an understanding that he would regularly update the government about his health but he did not fulfill his commitment. “We will inform the court about the situation and whatever the decision of the court will be, we will accept it,” he said.
The foreign minister also praised the European Parliament for the decision regarding cancellation of the speech of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
About the recent GSP-Plus extension given to Pakistan for two years, Mr Qureshi said it would help boost country’s economy. The spiral of price hike had already been brought under control while there was no more depreciation in the value of Pakistani currency, he added.
About the viral outbreak, the minister said that no coronavirus-related death had been reported in Pakistan so far. He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had also appreciated the precautionary steps taken by the federal government in this regard.
In China, he added, all Pakistani students were safe, as the Chinese government was providing the best facilities to them. Besides, the Pakistani embassy in China was in contact with Chinese government in this regard, FM Qureshi added.
Referring to the recent Doha agreement, the foreign minister said there were bright chances of restoration of peace in Afghanistan following the US-Taliban deal. “The forces that used to criticise Pakistan are today praising its role,” he said.
“President Donald Trump appreciated Pakistan while standing on Indian soil, which is honour for Pakistan,” he added.
Mr Qureshi believed that restoration of peace to Afghanistan was a tough task, but it would be achieved. “The good news of release of arrested Taliban is there and if it is done then the next step will be dialogue between Afghan government and Taliban and hopefully it will happen soon,” he said.
He said efforts to get Dr Aafia Siddiqi released were made in the past as well and the PTI government would continue to make efforts in this regard.
He refused to comment on recent development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arab saying that he would not comment on the internal affairs of Saudi Arab.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2020