• Says Covid situation does not allow gatherings
• Spokespersons suggest imprisonment for those attending rallies
• Pakistan won’t recognise Israel till Palestinians get rights • Imran sees trilateral talks on Kashmir
ISLAMABAD: Urging the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to call off its scheduled public gatherings in view of the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan categorically said the government would not give permission to the opposition to hold its rallies in Multan and other cities.
“The coronavirus is spreading dangerously, therefore the opposition should postpone PDM public meetings,” Mr Khan said while talking to his spokespersons at the Prime Minister House.
Quoting the prime minister, a participant of the meeting said: “The government will strictly enforce standard operating procedures and not allow the opposition to hold rallies as the health guidelines did not permit large gatherings.”
Some of the spokespersons suggested that those attending public meetings be sent behind bars.
Criticising the opposition, the prime minister reiterated that he would not give any National Reconciliation Ordinance-like concession to the opposition leaders no matter how many rallies they staged.
The PDM has so far held four public meetings against the government in Gujranwala, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar while two are scheduled for Nov 30 and Dec 13 in Multan and Lahore, respectively.
Talking about the recent thawing of relations between Israel and some Muslim countries, Prime Minister Khan reiterated that Pakistan would not recognise Israel until the Palestinians were given their due rights.
He said his government would follow Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s policy regarding recognition of Israel.
PM Khan called for corporate farming to boost local production and keep prices of agricultural products down.
Presiding over a meeting with the country’s leading industrialists and businessmen, the prime minister sought proposals from them to modernise the agriculture sector and enhance production of various crops to launch corporate farming on a large scale.
He said prosperity was linked with the development of the business community, adding that facilitating industries and promoting trade activities was the government’s responsibility.
He said industrialists’ proposals had been included in policymaking which had started yielding good results.
The prime minister directed the relevant authorities to resolve the issues being faced by the industrialists in the export of products.
The delegation included Azam Farooq (Cherat Cement), Bashir Ali Mohammad (Gul Ahmed), Mohammad Ali Tabba (Lucky Cement), Saqib Shirazi (Honda Atlas), Fawad Mukhtar (Fatima Fertiliser), Arif Habib (Arif Habib Group) and Hussain Dawood (Engro Corporation).
Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar, advisers to the prime minister Abdul Razak Dawood, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Dr Ishrat Hussain as well as senior officials attended the meeting.
The delegation thanked the prime minister for patronising trade activities and said the highest level of foreign exchange reserves was a reflection of stability.
The delegation members expressed their satisfaction over the availability of the government’s economic team for guidance and informed PM Khan that surplus current account was a welcome sign for national economy.
They said the demand for cement was the highest in the country’s history due to promotion of construction activities, which had generated immense employment opportunities during the pandemic.
PM meets Barrister Sultan
Prime Minister Khan said the next dialogue on resolving the Kashmir dispute would be trilateral.
During his meeting with former Azad Kashmir (AJK) prime minister and PTI AJK President Barrister Sultan Mehmood, Mr Khan said under the UN resolution, Kashmiri people, Pakistan and India were the three parties to the dispute while the final decision on the issue was to be taken by the Kashmiri people.
“Pakistan will continue to stand by the Kashmiris facing atrocities at the hands of the Indian occupation troops,” he added.
PM Khan said Pakistan would also continue raising its voice on every international forum to expose the brutal face of India and highlight the blatant human rights violations being committed in India-held Kashmir.
He said efforts would be made to mobilise world opinion in favour of the Kashmiris who were waging a struggle to achieve their internationally recognised right to self-determination.
During the one-on-one meeting, Barrister Sultan Mehmood congratulated the prime minister on PTI’s victory in the recently held Gilgit-Baltistan elections and briefed him on preparations for the upcoming AJK elections, political situation and party’s organisational matters.
Prime Minister Khan said the election campaign in Gilgit-Baltistan had been launched with a delay, adding that this would not be repeated in the AJK elections.
He directed Barrister Sultan to immediately start the election campaign.
Mr Sultan thanked the prime minister for his government’s decision to provide Imdad health card to every citizen of Azad Kashmir and invited him to visit Muzaffarabad himself to launch the scheme.
The invitation was accepted by the prime minister and it was agreed that a ceremony will be held in the next few days.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2020