• CCI approves conduct of seventh census
• Defence Minister believes KP is being neglected
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday faced an awkward situation during a meeting of the parliamentary party of the ruling alliance when Defence Minister Pervez Khattak complained about neglecting of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) by the Centre.
According to sources, the prime minister became angry and snubbed the defence minister for what he [PM] called “blackmailing” him.
The meeting held at the Parliament House was presided over by the prime minister. The meeting cleared the controversial Supplementary Finance Bill-2022, commonly called mini-budget.
After the meeting, the prime minister sat in his chamber for almost the whole day and met a number of legislators hailing from his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and other parties in the ruling coalition.
The defence minister while attending the meeting reportedly said that he would not vote for the prime minister if new gas connections were not given to the people of KP.
However, Mr Khattak told media persons after the meeting that he neither harshly talked to the prime minister not hurled any threat of not voting for PM Khan.
The sources said Mr Khattak was of the view that KP was being neglected in terms of provision of electricity and gas while these facilities were being enjoyed by the people of other provinces. They said the defence minister told the prime minister that if the situation lingered on, the people of KP would not vote for the PTI.
However, Mr Khattak in the corridors of parliament house told media persons that he had not misbehaved with the PM and that he had just raised the issue of gas shortage and ban on new gas connections in KP.
“Imran Khan is my leader and prime minister and I did not tell him that I will not vote for him if gas connections are not given to the people of KP,” he said.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Shahbaz Gill, later confirmed that Mr Khattak had raised the issue of non-provision of gas to the people of KP.
Talking to reporters, he said the defence minister told Minister of Energy Hammad Azhar that gas supply schemes in KP were being blocked and no new gas connections were being given to the people of the province.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan told Mr Khattak that he [PM] had not come to power to fill his own pockets and he had no factory or mill.
The sources said on the complaints of the defence minister the prime minister became angry and asked Mr Khattak to stop “blackmailing” him [PM]. On this, the defence minster went out of the meeting hall but later he was called back by the prime minister.
Shahbaz Gill said Mr Khattak went outside just to have a cup of tea and later returned to the meeting.
Mr Khattak told media that he left the meeting hall just for smoking. “I am a smoker and I went outside the meeting hall for smoking,” he added.
After the parliamentary party’s meeting, the PM again called the defence minister to his chamber where he again expressed displeasure over Mr Khattak’s “attitude” in the meeting.
7th population census
The Council of Common Interests (CCI) during its 49th meeting held with Prime Minister Khan in the chair approved the conduct of Seventh Population and Housing Census and the establishment of the census monitoring committee.
The committee will be chaired by the deputy chairman of Planning Commission while all provincial chief secretaries, chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority, chief commissioner of Islamabad Capital Territory and other senior officials will be its members.
The meeting was apprised that the committee would oversee and monitor the census activities to ensure expeditious, transparent and credible census operations, a press release issued by the PM Media Office said.
The CCI was told that housing census would be conducted before the population census.
Welcoming the chief ministers, the prime minister said frequency of CCI meetings could be increased as per the demands of the provinces.
Prime Minister Khan emphasised that the federal government was committed to resolving national issues in consultation with the federating units and other stakeholders.
The CCI also decided that additional water requirements for Karachi would be discussed by the committee formed to reconcile views of the provinces at the political and technical levels and discuss issues related to water.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022