• Imran stresses importance of improved internet connectivity in GB
• Aide says cultural heritage to be preserved while working on Ravi project
ISLAMABAD: With regards to the Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC) decision to allow import of sugar, cotton and cotton yarn from India, Prime Minister Imran Khan held consultations with key members of his cabinet on Friday and decided that Pakistan could not go ahead with any trade with India under the current circumstances.
Pakistan has constantly stated that any forward movement requires India to create an enabling environment by revisiting its unilateral and illegal measures of August 5, 2019 regarding India-held Kashmir.
Sources said that the prime minister instructed the Ministry of Commerce and his economic team to immediately take steps to facilitate the relevant sectors, value added, apparel and sugar, by finding alternative cheap sources of import of the needed commodities.
According to the sources, various proposals have been presented to the ECC which considers these suggestions from economic and commercial point of view. After consideration by the ECC, its decisions are presented to the cabinet for ratification and final approval.
The source said that in the present case, a proposal was presented to the ECC to allow import of cotton, cotton yarn and sugar from India keeping in view domestic requirements.
The ECC had decided on commercial grounds to recommend these imports for the cabinet’s consideration.
While this decision was not on the formal agenda of the cabinet meeting, the issue was brought up by cabinet members and the prime minister instructed that the ECCs decision be deferred and immediately reviewed.
Internet facilities in GB
Prime Minister Khan said that provision of 3G and 4G internet services and improving connectivity in Gilgit Baltistan were vital for exploiting the true potential of local youth and promoting tourism in the area.
It would also help the youth in getting online education and utilising their capabilities through information technology, besides benefiting from the potential of tourism, he said.
The prime minister was presiding over a meeting held here for bringing about further improvement in connectivity in Gilgit Baltistan.
The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Ameen Gandapur, Minister for Information Technology Amin-ul-Haq, GB Chief Minister Muhammad Khalid Khursheed and senior officials.
The meeting deliberated on various projects for bringing about further improvement in communication links and internet facilities in GB.
The prime minister said that the government was committed to development of Gilgit Baltistan and had approved a historic development package for GB, which would herald a new era of progress in the region.
He said that as compared to past the incumbent government was giving special attention to improving connectivity in GB and its commitment was evident from 250 per cent increase in allocation of funds for communication links in the region.
The prime minister directed the Ministry of Information Technology, Special Communications Organisation and Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to continue to strive for improved connectivity in GB.
Ravi river project
Special Assistant to the PM (SAPM) on Political Communication Dr Shahbaz Gill said on Friday that with the commencement of work on Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project, preservation of relics of ancient civilisation and cultural heritage along the banks of the river would be ensured with special focus on environmental aspect of the project.
He said deliberations were being made for installation of water treatment plants on the pattern of River Thames.
He said the prime minister was constantly seeking updates about the project on daily basis for the last one year, which would be initiated after reviewing its economic viability.
He said that the prime minister had given approval for construction of residential flats for media persons in Lahore besides reserving quota for them in housing schemes of other cities. “The government is giving subsidy of Rs300,000 against each residential unit on first 100,000 houses to be built under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme,” he added.
Addressing a press conference along with Minister for Finance Hammad Azhar, the SAPM said earlier deliberations and attempts were made by different governments for execution of an urban development project along Ravi River during last 40 years but each time it remained inconclusive.
The government had for the first time seriously started working on the project as the prime minister always accepted challenges, he added.
During a presentation, the prime minister was told by the Punjab chief secretary about the two times rapid horizontal growth of Lahore city during last 20 years, he said, adding that it was all due to ill planning and ruthless land grabbing by political land mafia backed by different regimes.
Mr Gill said that Prime Minister Khan himself belonged to Lahore city and had concern about the growing civic issues of the city and lowering of its underground water table.
Responding to a question about the Supreme Court verdict in Daska by-election case, he said that the PTI had always respected decisions by courts and the recent verdict of the apex court would be accepted with same spirit.
He said the accused in sugar scam had been exposed for the first time under the incumbent government which had fixed standard market rate of the commodity. He said that a new law to monitor supply chain of sugar had been introduced in Punjab.
About the economic growth rate, he claimed that the domestic car manufacturing in March had broken the record of last 30 years.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2021