PM Kakar vows to continue outgoing govt’s policies

Published August 16, 2023
Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar chairs a meeting on the economy on August 15. — Photo courtesy PID
Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar chairs a meeting on the economy on August 15. — Photo courtesy PID
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar meets JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Islamabad,
on Tuesday.—APP
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar meets JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Islamabad, on Tuesday.—APP

• Condoles with Fazl on Bajaur blast; no confirmation yet on interim cabinet
• US to ‘cooperate’ with caretakers over polls as per democratic norms

ISLAMABAD: A day after taking oath as the interim prime minister, Anwaarul Haq Kakar set into motion and chaired meetings on the economic situation and ongoing developments on Tuesday and vowed to continue with the previous government’s policies.

Even though he appeared to have eased into the role of the interim chief executive, the challenging task of piecing together a cabinet was still staring in his face.

The names of several retired bureaucrats, businesspersons and other personalities were being floated in the media as probable caretaker ministers but there was no confirmation yet on who’d be entrusted with what portfolio.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Kakar chaired a meeting over the economic situation.

The caretaker prime minister said work on public welfare projects would continue and the government would ensure the provision of international quality facilities in health and education sectors.

He also directed officials to expedite ongoing reforms in the power sector and strictly implement measures to increase tax revenue.

Mr Kakar said the caretaker government would concentrate on deregulation for further improvement in the economy.

The caretaker PM said his government would carry forward the economic policies initiated by the PDM government.

According to the PMO, Mr Kakar said further enhancement of foreign investment, under the Special Investment Facilitation Council, was among his government’s top priorities. The council was formed by ex-prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The meeting was attended by senior officials, including the State Bank of Pakistan governor, finance and power divisions secretaries and the Federal Board of Revenue chairman.

Mr Kakar also directed officials to submit detailed reports on the ongoing reforms in all sectors.

He also ordered to improve the road network linking Balochistan with other provinces.

Interim cabinet

There appears to be no consensus on who’d be made part of the interim cabinet and Mr Kakar was still weighing its options.

Some of the names, reported by the media, who might become part of the new set-up include former police chiefs Dr Shoaib Suddle and Zulfiqar Cheema, BAP’s Senator Sarfaraz Bugti, former foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, former finance minister Hafeez Sheikh, former federal minister Muhammad Ali Durrani, and lawyer Muhamad Ahsan Bhoon.

Several attempts were made by Dawn to contact the “reported candidates” but most of them did not respond.

However, Dr Suddle told Dawn he has no information about his supposed appointment in the caretaker setup.

“There can be no confirmation prior to the official notification,” he added.

Kakar meets Fazl

The interim prime minister also visited the residence of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Tuesday.

He expressed condolences over the loss of life in a recent suicide attack at a JUI-F public meeting in Bajaur’s Khar area. The caretaker PM vowed to take effective measures to eradicate terrorism from the country.

Rehabilitation of roads in Balochistan

In another meeting, the caretaker PM emphasised the importance of infrastructure development, stating that an efficient road infrastructure played a pivotal role in the development and progress of any country.

Authorities should adopt an “out of the box approach” to expedite work on under-construction roads as it was the government’s responsibility to provide facilities to the masses.

The meeting was attended by relevant officials, the PM Office Media Wing said in a press release.

The meeting was briefed about the ongoing work on the Pinjara bridge on the Quetta-Sukkur highway and the Sawar bridge on the Quetta-Zhob Road. The work on Pinjara bridge, which was damaged during last year’s flood, will commence next month.

The meeting was informed that a causeway was constructed after floods which restored vehicular movement on the road. However, the construction of a new bridge, with 15m height and 12m width, would take about nine months.

The repair work on the 282m-long Sawar bridge was in the final stages. However, during the construction, traffic could not be diverted due to the lack of alternate routes.

The interim PM was briefed that the reconstruction and rehabilitation work on the 118-km-long Quetta-Dhadar Road and 188-km-long Dhadar-Jacobabad Road would start soon which would not only cut the travel distance but also ease the traffic burden on adjoining roads.

The caretaker PM observed that the National Highway Authority was playing an efficient role in the maintenance and construction of roads.

He emphasised the timely completion of road infrastructure in Balochistan and directed the officials for the reconstruction of the Karachi-Chaman highway.

US-Pak partnership continues

Separately, the US State Department said on Tuesday that it would continue to work with the caretaker government in Pakistan as it has with previous governments.

Asked to comment on the new caretaker setup in Pakistan, department’s deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said: “We are aware that the PDM government has been dissolved and note the announcement of [former] Senator Anwaarul Haq Kakar as the caretaker prime minister.”

Affirming that a change of government does not affect bilateral relations between the two allies, he said: “We look forward to working with the interim prime minister and his team as they prepare to hold elections.”

The United States, he said, would “continue to partner with Pakistan on areas of mutual interests, including our interest in Pakistan’s economic stability, prosperity and security”.

The official noted that the caretaker government has been tasked to hold free and fair elections, adding that Washington would cooperate with the new rulers in conducting the elections according to democratic norms and the rule of law.

Anwar Iqbal in Washington also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2023

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