Asad Umar defends PTI govt’s handling of affairs in Sindh

Updated 25 Oct 2020

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FEDERAL Minister for Planning Asad Umar speaks to the media at the MQM-P office in Hyderabad on Saturday. — Dawn
FEDERAL Minister for Planning Asad Umar speaks to the media at the MQM-P office in Hyderabad on Saturday. — Dawn

HYDERABAD: Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar has said regardless of judges’ observations in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case, the response in verdict is positive as it says “questions about properties were indeed raised to approach the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC)”.

The minister, who is a senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), said “the rest are details like use of language by ex-attorney general Anwar Mansoor, who is a decent person”. He said Mr Mansoor might have used the words that made language intemperate.

Mr Umar was speaking to the media after visiting local office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) here on Saturday.

Mr Umar said that a judge’s position in society was very important for which stricter procedures are defined. “Point is what is brief of matter [verdict]? Crux is Supreme Court itself observed that certain questions were indeed raised about properties which needed answers. The SC in fact concurs [with government] and rest are details of the verdict,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi, Khurram Sher Zaman, MQM-P lawmakers Salahu­ddin, Sabir Qaimkhani, Nadeem Siddiqui, Rashid Khilji, Nasir Qureshi and others were also present.

Census controversy

Speaking about census results, he said a committee having representation of PTI, MQM-P and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) on it was now in place. “If Karachi’s population increases it would increase overall share of Sindh in resource distribution under the NFC Award. But we have never heard or seen the Sindh CM raising this issue [undercounting of Karachi’s population in the census],” he said.

Development projects

He said he reviewed Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects pertaining to the establishment of higher education institute which was inaugurated by the prime minister for Hyderabad. Some delays hit the project as Sindh government had to transfer land for it. He said he had spoken to the Sindh CM and would meet him again on Monday to discuss the institute. He said project of the engineering support centre, funded by the federal industries ministry, would give further boost to the bangle and automobile industries of Hyderabad.

The minister conceded that some micro-level development schemes for Hyderabad were included in the PSDP which did not fall in its domain and the CM had raised objections over it in the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on the grounds that it is was beyond federal government’s jurisdiction. But the CM also appreciated it, he added.

“But what should we do when streets of Hyderabad and Karachi look ugly [without] the basic amenities that are to be provided by Sindh government? Federal government realises its responsibilities as PTI and its allies have been elected from cities,” he said.

Mr Umar pledged to get both big and small schemes executed and said that an identical package like Karachi’s would be announced for the rest of Sindh where federal and provincial governments were supposed to deliver jointly.

“The business community members told me they were expecting something from the Sindh government but since it doesn’t respond, they turn to the federal government,” the minister said.

The Sindh government got maximum resources but people’s problems were multiplying at the same pace, he said, and hoped that PTI would not have to answer people in the next polls that it did not have powers. Whatever resources and authority the federal government had, it would use them to improve people’s standard of living.

Capt Safdar’s arrest

Commenting on retired Capt Safdar’s arrest, Mr Umar said it would have been better if journalist asked why no one had apologised for creating a fuss at the Quaid’s mausoleum. However, there was no need to make the arrest this way. Since it did not benefit PTI politically, why would it go for it?” he argued, and said, not only Capt Sardar, but every citizen’s rights should be protected. For him, he said, upholding sanctity of Quaid’s mausoleum was above everything. He denied the allegation that PTI had trespassed into parliament during its sit-in at D-Chowk Islamabad thus violating sanctity of the house. “We remained present outside it then,” he said.

The minister told a questioner not to take seriously Maryam Nawaz’s prediction about PTI’s ouster before January. “These are the people who kept denying having owned any property abroad or within the country ... and rest is history.”

Islands’ development

He said the PM would address the islands’ issue amicably. He said the islands’ development would benefit Sindh economically and in terms of jobs.

He recalled that the Sindh government had made similar attempts in the past for developing islands. In July this year, it had itself issued a no-objection certificate but now the matter was being politicised.

The minister said that Covid-19 issue was still there and people should take it seriously, adding that the entire world eulogised Pakistan’s efforts to contain it. Had there been no Covid-19, the PTI and MQM-P would have held a powerful political show in Karachi, he said.

Issues raised by MQM-P

MQM-P leaders presented an 11-point statement to Mr Umar demanding Rs100bn package for Hyderabad, establishment of the Hyderabad university, bringing an end to power loadshedding in the city, curbing unemployment, rehabilitation of the civic infrastructure destroyed over the last 12 years of PPP government, linking Hyderabad with Motorway etc.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2020