• Cabinet decides against increasing price of flour, sugar
• PM wants incentivised agriculture policy to curtail wheat import
ISLAMABAD: As tensions run high on the political front, the prime minister and senior leadership of the main government party, PML-N, have decamped to London where they are due to meet with party supremo Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday (today).
Announcing the visit by her party’s high command, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that this was a private visit by PML-N leaders to meet their party leader, adding that PM Sharif would also be going with them.
About criticism on the visit, Ms Aurangzeb said the government’s opponents were blowing it out of proportion.
In what seemed to be an attempt to downplay the significance of the trip to London, coming as it does while the country is in the throes of constitutional and economic crises, Ms Aurangzeb said the delegation would be holding consultations with the elder Sharif, which was an ongoing process and not unusual among political parties.
However, the trip was roundly criticised by their chief rival, Imran Khan, who said in a public meeting on Tuesday that the entire cabinet was going to meet a ‘corrupt and convicted’ person, that too on taxpayers’ money.
Sources told Dawn PM Shehbaz Sharif departed for London via a British Airways flight shortly after midnight. It is expected that he will remain in London for two to three days.
The 10-member delegation will consist of PM Sharif, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Power Minister Khurram Dastagir, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq, among others.
The timing of the PM and his top leadership’s visit to London is being questioned, with observers asking why such a trip is necessary when the country is in dire straits.
Read: A crisis like no other
According to insiders, PML-N leaders are giving ‘lame excuses’, such as needing to meet face-to-face with Nawaz for political consultations.
Sources say that several key decision may be taken in the meeting, including settling the question of early elections, developing a strategy to counter PTI and prevent the oncoming price hike.
Meanwhile, the government on Tuesday also decided not to increase prices of flour and sugar and import three million tonnes of wheat to meet the local demand.
These decisions were taken in the federal cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday.
Briefing media about the decisions taken by the federal cabinet Marriyum Aurangzeb said the PM directed to introduce an incentivised agricultural policy that would enable the country to curtail wheat import.
She said the cabinet also approved revocation of multiple foreign passports under Passport Act, 1974. She said the cabinet decided that such passports should not only be revoked but also a strategy should be adopted to prevent it in future.
The last date for the cancellation of dual foreign passports is December 31, 2022, she said, adding that all procedural and administrative arrangements will be finalized to take legal action against dual passport holders.
The cabinet also decided to continue the fixed rates of flour and sugar under the Ramadan package. Under the package, a 20 kg bag of flour was reduced from 950 rupees to 800 rupees, similarly sugar was reduced from 85 rupees per kg to 70 rupees per kg.
Ms Aurangzeb also revealed the cabinet was briefed on Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, while the cabinet approved the appointment of Fawad Asadullah Khan as director general of Intelligence Bureau, while accepting the resignation of Wapda chairman Muzammil Hussain.
Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2022