LAHORE: PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif on Monday left for China on a ‘low-profile’ five-day visit, with the ruling party refusing to divulge details about the nature of his trip.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurang­zeb and Information Minister Attaullah Tarar did not confirm the elder Sharif’s “unannounced visit” to Beijing.

“I have no idea (about Nawaz Sharif’s China visit),” Mr Tarar told Dawn. However, a PML-N minister confirmed to Dawn that the elder Sharif had indeed left for China on a “private visit”.

Media reports suggested the visit was of a ‘personal nature’, during which he will undergo a “medical check-up” and hold meetings with some Chinese companies regarding development works in Punjab, where his daughter Maryam Nawaz is the chief minister. Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar and Maryam’s son Junaid Safdar are accompanying him.

CM Maryam directs Punjab govt to provide solar power systems to 50,000 households

A source close to the Sharif family told Dawn that the purpose of the elder Sharif’s visit was not discussed with the party leadership. “The programme of [Nawaz] Sharif’s visit to China has been kept secret from the party and the PML-N government. Perhaps some very close associates of the elder Sharif would know the exact nature of his visit,” he said.

The insider said it was being speculated in party circles whether the elder Sharif had some ‘special assignment’ in China, which could not be carried out by his younger brother, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Nawaz Sharif has never visited China in the past for medical reasons, preferring to travel instead to London, where he has undergone multiple procedures. Most recently, he remained there from 2019 to 2023.

Solar power

The Punjab government will provide 1kV solar power system each to 50,000 households in the province.

Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz presided over a meeting on ‘Light without Electricity Bill, Roshan Punjab Programme’ for a briefing on technical issues of 1kV solar power for domestic consumers, here on Monday.

The Roshan Punjab Programme of the provincial government aims to provide free electricity to the poor.

Approving the grant of 1kV solar power system to 50,000 households in Punjab, the chief minister directed to start the pilot project immediately. “Pro­­­tected consumers consuming up to 100 units of electricity will be eligible under the programme in the first phase. In a 1kV system, two solar panels, battery, inverter, and wires will be provided to consumers.”

Up to 16 hours of charging backup can be achieved through the lithium iron battery.

The chief minister directed the officials concerned to install the solar system of the latest technology.

Women police station

The chief minister on Monday inaugurated the first virtual women police station at the Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA).

“The Virtual Women Police Station will guide women through all stages of the crime, from registration of the FIR to its investigation and trial.

’’Women can contact police through 15 Call, Women Safety App live chat feature, video call feature, Punjab Police App and Safe City web portal,“ she said.

Published in Dawn, April 23nd, 2024

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