• Terms delay in conviction of opposition leaders for graft biggest failure
• Sees complete five-year term for PTI govt
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he had so far not thought about extension in the tenure of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“The current year has just started and November is far away. Then why there is worry about extension in the tenure of the army chief,” the prime minister said at a one-on-one meeting with Dunya TV Islamabad Bureau Chief Khawar Ghumman.
According to Mr Ghumman, the prime minister said he enjoyed unprecedented relationship with the military leadership.
When asked — in the context of rumours of a possible deal between the PML-N and military to send his government packing — whether he felt threatened from any quarters, the PM said he personally was not under any kind of pressure. He added that he enjoyed the support of government allies and expressed the confidence that his government would complete its mandated five years.
Talking about his party’s quest for accountability, the PM said major opposition figures had not yet been tried on corruption charges and still roamed free because of weak prosecution.
He said the National Accountability Bureau would take cases before the court but they were not being prosecuted.
He admitted that not proceeding against opposition leaders despite there being evidence of corruption against them could be termed his government’s greatest shortcoming, but appeared hopeful that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Shehbaz Sharif would not escape punishment in the fresh case brought against him by the Federal Investigation Agency.
He termed PTI’s defeat in the recent local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa “a big loss”, and when asked how the PTI planned to ensure electoral success in local government elections in Punjab, the prime minister reposed confidence in Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar and hoped that his party would have a better showing when polls were held in Punjab.
The PM held three other meetings on Thursday.
During an interaction with Punjab Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, PM Khan affirmed his government’s commitment to prioritising the completion of people-oriented projects such as health, education, low-cost housing, social projects and clean water.
In a separate meeting, PM Khan called for the swift completion of the government’s flagship urban development projects, including the Ravi Urban Development Authority and the Central Business District, Walton in Lahore and the Nullah Lai Expressway in Rawalpindi.
During the meeting, the PM was told that the business district proposed to generate revenue through the auction of seven mix-use commercial plots in downtown Lahore; the construction of Burj Al-Jinnah, Pakistan’s tallest skyscraper; the construction of two premium residential towers and a 500-bed hospital at Bab-i-Pakistan; the construction of CBD Square and Walton Road Flyover, and the construction of an aviation museum at Walton Airport.
Moreover, it was told that developmental work was in top gear on Ravi River Waterfront Development, establishment of Industrial Estate; and the development of Saphire Bay and Ravi ChaharBagh Society.
On Thursday, the PM also met Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan Niazi and discussed with him projects related to tourism promotion and conducting local government elections in AJK during the current year.
He congratulated the Ministry of Communication and National Highway Authority for saving public money through transparency and digitisation and achieving a 138 per cent reduction in the cost of constructing a four-lane highway as compared to the previous PML-N government.
In a Twitter post, the PM also mentioned a 125pc increase in revenue as well as the fact that encroachments had been removed from land worth Rs5.18 billion.
All this [was achieved] despite global price hikes and inflation, he remarked.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2022