• PM orders removal of hurdles in installation of LNG terminals, virtual pipelines
• Announces civil awards for ‘resilient exporters’ who help increase exports
ISLAMABAD: Following the unexpected defeat of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in the recently held first phase of local government elections in its stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and differences among the party candidates, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday directed the province’s chief minister to ensure unity among party ranks for winning the second phase of polls next month.
Moreover, owing to the severe shortage of natural gas in the country, the prime minister directed the authorities concerned to ensure expeditious issuance of licences for domestic exploration of gas to meet the increasing demand, especially in winter.
He vowed to celebrate the diamond jubilee of the country in a befitting manner.
KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan called on the prime minister to discuss the upcoming second phase of the local government elections and the PTI’s organisational structure in the province.
According to the Prime Minister Office, Imran Khan directed the chief minister to take all steps to ensure unity and discipline within the party ranks for the next phase of the LG elections.
The KP chief minister apprised PM Khan of the progress on various development projects in the province at which the PM directed to complete all the projects on time so that people could get immediate relief and facilities.
Following the defeat in the first phase of the LG polls, the prime minister had wrapped up the PTI’s organisational structure and grilled the KP CM over the loss. He had called “wrong selection” of candidates as the main cause of the defeat and observed that in some constituencies three PTI candidates were contesting for one seat.
Differences among the PTI candidates were confirmed after some of them moved courts against each other. “It is because of their [party candidates’] differences that the prime minister directed the KP CM to ensure unity among party ranks before the second phase of the LG polls, which is scheduled for Jan 16, 2022,” sources told Dawn.
The sources said the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declared the provisional results of 45 out of 63 tehsils in 17 districts of KP where local body elections were held on Dec 19.
According to the provisional results as well as unofficial and unverified results from 53 tehsils, the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) was leading with 20 seats. At the second spot was the PTI with 13 seats, independent candidates have won in 10 tehsils, while the Awami National Party (ANP) has so far won in six tehsils. The PML-N has claimed three seats, Jamaat-i-Islami two and the PPP and Tehreek-i-Islahat Pakistan one seat each.
The JUI-F also clinched the mayor’s seats in the provincial capital of Peshawar, Kohat and Bannu. In Mardan, the ANP’s nominees for mayor swept the polls.
Gas exploration: At a separate meeting on the demand and supply of natural gas, PM Khan instructed the relevant departments to remove hurdles in the process of installation of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and virtual pipeline projects by investors.
The meeting with federal ministers was briefed about the demand and supply from domestic reserves, and shortfall and import of LNG.
It was informed that the current constrained demand of gas in the country was 4,700 million cubic feet per day that increased to at least 6,000mmcfd in winters. The supply to domestic consumers amounted to 3,300mmcfd that was decreasing each year.
The prime minister directed that the gas shortfall be managed by importing LNG. With the current infrastructure, there was a shortfall of nearly 1,000mmcfd in winter for which multiple options were being adopted, he stated.
The meeting was also told that in the short term, the existing capacity of domestic terminals was being optimised and the process of issuance of virtual pipeline licences expedited. Additionally, the installation of two new LNG terminals was under way with all bottlenecks being removed on priority.
In this regard, the ministries of maritime affairs and petroleum as well as the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority were directed to coordinate and take all other stakeholders, including the investors, on board.
The PM emphasised the importance of the North-South Gas Pipeline and directed to ensure its execution without further delay in the agreed timelines.
Awards for exporters: In another meeting, PM Khan emphasised the need for promoting the export culture and said the traders helping increase the country’s exports would be rewarded with civil awards.
The PMO quoted Mr Khan as saying: “We need resilient exporters who will be rewarded with national civil awards as per their performance in increasing exports.”
He also directed the Ministry of Commerce to develop a portal that could cater to the complaints of exporters. The ministry was also directed to act as a catalyst to achieve sustained growth in exports. “We have to develop an ecosystem and a culture that can increase exports and decrease our dependence on imports,” he stressed.
Mr Khan also directed all the departments concerned to develop robust policies and transparency by using technology.
Earlier, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood apprised Mr Khan that this year, a record growth in exports had been achieved after 10 years of stagnation. He stressed that it was high time to introduce incentives to further increase the export target.
Pakistan’s diamond jubilee: PM Khan called for holding Pakistan’s diamond jubilee celebrations in a befitting manner to highlight the country’s distinctive identity, culture and unique location.
“On the occasion of the country’s 75th independence anniversary, there is a need to tell the youth about the purpose of Pakistan’s creation and the true message of Allama Iqbal,” Mr Khan said while presiding over a meeting held to review preparations for the diamond jubilee celebrations in the coming year. He was briefed in detail about the preparations by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain.
The meeting was told that the celebrations will focus on highlighting the country’s history, culture, national heroes, the women who participated in the Pakistan Movement, local sports, tourism, economy, green Pakistan and relations with friendly countries through various events and documentaries.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2021