PM Imran moves to avoid KP-like setback in Punjab

Published December 24, 2021
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, chief secretary and principal secretary to the CM, and IG Punjab call on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore on Thursday. — PID
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, chief secretary and principal secretary to the CM, and IG Punjab call on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore on Thursday. — PID

• Asks govt, PTI bigwigs to start homework for LG polls
• Says dynastic politics must be discouraged
• Inaugurates tech zone in Lahore

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Punjab government and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leadership to begin homework for the upcoming local government elections in the province, adding he would personally oversee the preparations.

During a meeting with government officials and the political leadership in Punjab at the Chief Minister secretariat on Thursday, PM Khan acknowledged that wrong selection of candidates had led to the party’s defeat in its stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The government and party leadership should strictly select candidates on merit and avoid dynastic politics, which was exposed after causing damage to the party in KP,” sources quoted PM Khan as saying.

“The mistakes made in KP must not be repeated in Punjab,” he stressed. With candidates selected on merit, Mr Khan said, the PTI would give a tough time to its opponents in the local government elections in Punjab.

The sources quoted him as saying that his party organised the KP local bodies elections in a free and fair manner as it neither tried to hijack the polls nor alleged any foul play even after losing. Instead, the sources said, the prime minister had taken his party members to task for promoting dynastic politics and not selecting candidates on merit.

Still, the sources quoted Mr Khan as saying, the PTI was the second largest party in KP, while the PML-N and PPP had been wiped out of the province.

The prime minister asked the government and party leaders to take senior and old party leaders in the loop and hold consultations for contesting the Punjab LG elections with full vigour. The premier said he wanted to hold the elections at the earliest so that power and funds could be devolved at the grassroots and the masses’ problems resolved at their doorsteps. Mr Khan also directed that the Sehat Insaf Card distribution should be expedited.

The meeting was attended by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, federal ministers Shafqat Mahmood, PM’s special assistant Dr Shahbaz Gill, Punjab Local Government Minister Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and party workers.

Earlier, PM Khan held a meeting with Punjab Irrigation Minister Mohsin Leghari and discussed a joint strategy for monitoring river water to address the reservations of Sindh.

Mr Leghari told the premier that a team had visited Punjab and was received well at Taunsa Barrage. However, he said, when the team was sent to visit the Guddu Barrage it was not entertained by the Sindh government, at which Mr Khan expressed disappointment.

The premier also took a briefing about the ongoing irrigation projects in the province.

Lahore Technopolis

Pakistan can break the vicious cycle of depleting foreign reserves and repeatedly going to the International Monetary Fund only by focusing on exports and attracting foreign investment through clean governance.

This was stated by PM Khan at the inaugural ceremony of Lahore Technopolis, a special technology zone, here on Thursday. The prime minister said Pakistan could leapfrog by concentrating on and incentivising IT parks like the Technopolis, adding that such initiatives would be established in all big cities of the country.

“Ensuring ease of doing business in technology parks will help attract foreign investment, expand exports and offer much-needed jobs to the youth of Pakistan,” he said and directed that the government offer tax breaks and remove regulation hurdles in such endeavours. “The IT industry alone can pay off the country’s current account deficit.”

Mr Khan announced he was going to launch orientation sessions for the government as well as the entire country to redirect focus on learning how a country’s exports could be enhanced and wealth increased. He said there were many things that need not be imported but developed indigenously like palm oil, adding that Pakistan had to bear the brunt of inflation in other countries only because it was importing various daily-use items.

Stressing on efforts to increase exports, the premier cited examples of China and India that he said developed their IT industries, incentivised their overseas citizens to return and develop businesses that eventually fetched foreign investment. He said China consciously increased exports, piled up national wealth and brought 700 million people out of the quagmire of poverty.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2021

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