ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday visited Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain at the latter’s residence in Islamabad, apparently to discuss the forthcoming by-elections on 20 vacant seats of Punjab Assembly and the fiscal budget 2022-23 to be announced on Friday (June 10).
According to the Prime Minister Office, PM Sharif, along with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, met Shujaat and inquired after him.
Meanwhile, an inside source in the PML-Q told Dawn that the premier offered the PML-Q chief to jointly contest the by-polls, scheduled to be held on July 17. “The PM also desired that both parties field joint candidates in Punjab in the next general elections,” the source added.
PML-Q MNA Farrukh Khan was also present among the hosts and it is being anticipated that she may also become a part of the federal cabinet in the next few days.
PML-Q chief assures PM of full support; Elahi’s nephew quits party; minister says flour being supplied to KP at Rs40 per kg
The PML-Q is currently divided into two groups — one backing the incumbent government and the other, led by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, standing with the PTI. However, Shujaat denied any rifts within the family. He was quoted as saying: “Being the family elder, I still make all the decisions.”
During the meeting, the PML-Q chief also presented some budgetary recommendations to the PM to provide relief to the unprecedented inflation-hit masses and facilitate overseas Pakistanis, including free transportation of bodies through the Pakistan International Airlines.
He extended all-out support to the PM and hoped he rids the country of all the crises.
The prime minister told Shujaat that the two PML-Q federal ministers — Housing Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema and Board of Investment and Special Initiatives Minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain — were honest and hardworking members of his cabinet.
On Tuesday, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz had called on Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari at Bilawal House in Lahore, and according to media reports, the two leaders agreed to contest the upcoming by-elections jointly.
The Election Commission of Pakistan had de-seated 25 MPAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) over defection for backing Hamza in the CM’s election. Following their removal from the provincial assembly, the CM’s position is said to be weak.
Wheat flour for KP: Meanwhile, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb claimed Prime Minister Sharif had fulfilled his promise of providing flour at discounted rates to the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the commodity being supplied at Rs40 per kilogram.
“The provision of flour at a discounted price to the people of KP will be ensured at the PM’s signature ‘Shehbaz Speed’,” she exclaimed.
For the expedient and effective realisation of the PM’s initiative for the people of KP, 100 mobile stores had been launched, she announced, adding the province had been divided into two zones -- Abbottabad and Peshawar -- for the purpose. The systematic supply of flour at a discounted price would be gradually extended to the entire KP, she assured. She further claimed so far more than 50,000 bags of flour had been sold in the two zones through the mobile stores.
The minister further said the number of these mobile stores would be increased to 200 by June 13 so that more people of KP could benefit from the discounted flour.
In addition to this, temporary flour-selling points would also be operational in the province by June 9 (today), and by June 17 they would increase to 500 to further facilitate the process.
Ms Aurangzeb said that in line with the vision and promise of PM Shehbaz, there would be more than 2,000 selling points in KP at 993 locations from where people could buy low-cost flour.
Queen’s jubilee ceremony: Prime Minister Sharif later expressed the government’s resolve to further strengthen the Pakistan-UK bilateral relations in diverse fields, especially trade and investment.
Speaking as a chief guest at the 75th coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II here at the British High Commission, Mr Sharif referred to his recent telephonic conversation with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on strengthening trade and economic cooperation, saying: “We are expecting a trade delegation from the UK very soon.”
The PM said the Queen’s 75th coronation anniversary also coincided with the platinum independence year of Pakistan as well as the 75th anniversary of Pakistan-UK diplomatic and friendly relations.
British High Commissioner Christian Turner, in his remarks, highlighted the close bilateral relationship between Pakistan and the UK, and vowed to strive to further strengthen the ties.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022