• ML-1 scope extended to Torkham border
• First consignment of imported wheat due today, cabinet told
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to bring supreme leader of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and ex-premier Nawaz Sharif, who has been in London on medical grounds, back and vigorously pursue corruption cases against him in courts.
A meeting of the cabinet, which was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, also approved a proposal for extending the scope of Main Line-1 (ML-1) of Pakistan Railways from Karachi to Torkham border under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a week after Minister for Communications Murad Saeed on the floor of the National Assembly ruled out any such possibility.
Also, one of the main items discussed at the meeting was related to the prices of sugar and wheat flour, as the cabinet was informed that the first consignment of 60,000 tonnes of imported wheat would arrive on Wednesday.
Talking to Dawn after the meeting, a cabinet member, who did not want to be named, said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked his Adviser on Accountability Shahzad Akbar and Law Minister Farogh Naseem with bringing back Nawaz Sharif as soon as possible.”
He said PM Khan was asked to allow Mr Sharif to stay in the UK for his medical treatment as that would also be good for politics, but Mr Khan was of the opinion that he could not give any NRO-like (National Reconciliation Ordinance) concession to him and other opposition leaders facing corruption cases.
He quoted the prime minister as saying: “I cannot give NRO for the sake of politics.”
The prime minister reiterated that he would not come under any sort of “blackmailing” by the opposition and asked the legal team of the government to vigorously pursue cases of Nawaz Sharif in courts so that they could be decided forthwith.
The legal team has been tasked to keep a constant liaison with UK authorities for Mr Sharif’s repatriation.
According to an official press release, the meeting was apprised that Mr Sharif, who was allowed to leave the country by the Lahore High Court for four weeks under some conditions, left Pakistan in February 2020.
In response to Mr Khan’s claim, PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said Mr Khan should tell the nation who was blackmailing him, why was he getting blackmailed and what had he got to hide so desperately that he was vulnerable to blackmail.
Referring to the cabinet decision, the PML-N leader said the prime minister should focus on the legal aspects of sugar, wheat, flour and patrol theft by mafias under his patronage. It was Mr Khan’s responsibility to fulfil his promise of providing 10 million jobs and five million homes to the poor, she added.
She said Mr Khan should thank Mr Sharif for his development projects because the “selected” PM had been surviving only by “inaugurating” those projects. “Imran should apologise to Nawaz Sharif for destroying his built 5.8 [GDP growth rate] economy and 3 per cent inflation to minus 0.4 GDP and 13pc inflation,” she added.
Wheat and sugar
The meeting was apprised that 0.5 million metric tonnes of imported wheat would reach the country next month. The first consignment of the imported wheat weighing 60,000 metric tonnes would arrive here on Wednesday, while another shipment would come on Friday (August 28). The cabinet was informed that the rate of sugar had declined by Rs5 though its market price was said to be Rs100 per kg.
The cabinet also discussed appointments made without approval of the federal government as identified by the ministries/divisions.
The meeting approved deployment, requisition of Frontier Corps in Balochistan under Section 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act.
It also approved appointment of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) chairman as representative of Pakistan Ship Owners Association (PSOA) on the board of trustees of Karachi Port Trust (KPT).
The government also decided to include 61 food and non-food items in the Compulsory Certification Mark Scheme of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA). Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said with the inclusion of 61 items, the total number of items being certified by the PSQCA reached 166 including electrical items, blades, shaving screams, parks’ swings etc. He expressed the hope that locally manufactured cars and tractors would also be included in the list.
Also, the cabinet meeting was apprised that total liabilities of PIA’s hotel in US Roosevelt had gone up to $125 million.
Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020