MULTAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of south Punjab Secretariat on Monday.—APP
MULTAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of south Punjab Secretariat on Monday.—APP

MULTAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan says he has a different approach to tackle Islamophobia unlike a religious party’s pressure to expel the French ambassador and is determined to make it work.

“My way is to take heads of all Muslim countries into confidence. Together, we should ask Europe, the European Union and United Nations to stop hurting the feelings of 1.25 billion Muslim like they do not do in case of Jews,” he said while addressing a ceremony to inaugurate the south Punjab civil secretariat here on Monday,

“I want the Muslim countries to devise a joint line of action over the blasphemy issue with a warning of trade boycott of countries where such incidents will happen. This will be the most effective way to achieve the goal.”

Mr Khan said his government was already working on this issue as Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had discussed it with the foreign ministers of four Muslim countries.

Praises Buzdar, breaks ground for south Punjab secretariat building in Multan

He said the approach adopted by the banned Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan to get the ambassador expelled by pointing a gun at the government was never a workable solution to the issue.

The prime minister said the population of south Punjab was 33 per cent of the total population of the province but during the Shehbaz Sharif government the budget allocation for the region was only 17 per cent. He said during the last seven years of the Shehbaz Sharif government, a sum of Rs260 billion meant for south Punjab was diverted to other regions.

“The people of this area were also discriminated against in the distribution of government jobs as well and because of this discrimination, the people of this area were demanding a separate province. The people of this area will now get 33 per cent job quota as per its population and size. The establishment of secretariat is the beginning, in the next step south Punjab will become a separate province with a constitutional amendment. I have inaugurated the secretariat in Multan and will also inaugurate the secretariat in Bahawalpur as well,” he said.

The south Punjab secretariats in Multan and Bahawalpur were launched last year. The PM’s visit, according to the administration, was an official launch of the initiative and foundation stone laying of the secretariat’s own building.

The visit comes on the heals of a recent controversy when certain departments were practically closed in Multan and Bahawalpur which gave an impression that the Punjab government was going to wind up the secretariats. Following public backlash through social media, the government disowned official correspondence over the issue and removed two officials.

Appreciating the performance of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, the prime minister said that he selected him for the office keeping in view his background.

“Dera Ghazi Khan is the most underdeveloped area of the province while the tribal area from where Buzdar belongs to is the most underdeveloped area of Dera Ghazi Khan. A person who is from an underdeveloped area can better understand the sufferings of the people of the area. I selected Buzdar as I was looking for a person who could run the province in a way I think,” he said.

He said that the performance of Buzdar was never evaluated judiciously.

The PM launched health card for the province and said by September each family of Punjab would have this card.

Addressing another ceremony to distribute the Kissan Cards, the prime minister said that the government was focusing on the uplift of the agriculture sector.

“Only a prosperous farmer could make the country prosperous. The PTI government during the last two wheat seasons paid additional Rs500 billion to the farmers by increasing the price of wheat. Similarly, he said, additional Rs1100 billion were earned by the farmers due to increase in the prices of sugar cane, corn, pulses and milk,” he said.

He said that the government had decided to double the subsidy of Rs500 over the DAP through the Kissan Card. “Through this card loans will also be offered for seed and pesticides purchase beside compensating farmers in case of any calamity.

The premier also performed the groundbreaking of a shelter in Multan, a 200-bed mother and child hospital, and 10 water filtration plants.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2021

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