ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said his government would review all international agreements it inherited from the last Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) government and asked critics to bear with him for three months for performance.
He stated this during a meeting with a select group of anchorpersons at the Prime Minister House. The issues that came under discussion were the accountability of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders, use of official helicopters by the family of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, a verbal clash between Khawar Maneka, ex-husband of the first lady, and Pakpattan District Police Office (DPO) Rizwan Gondal, remarks by Punjab Information Minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan against a film star, alleged misuse of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s official chopper by PM Khan, etc.
Since no official statement on the meeting was issued, its details were shared by the participants.
Asks media to give his government three months before criticising its performance
The prime minister was quoted as saying: “Give our government three months before criticising its performance.” He claimed that in three months, there would be a marked difference in the way the country was currently run.
Asked if his government would wrap up all alleged controversial international agreements inked by the last government, the prime minister said he would review all such accords made by his predecessors.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry later told Dawn that Imran Khan had not said that he would abolish the international agreements but review all of them.
The prime minister informed the media persons about his eight-hour meeting with the military top brass at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and said Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and the entire military establishment had assured him of their full support for the PTI-led government at the Centre.
Mr Khan also briefed the anchorpersons on his recent meeting with National Accountability Bureau chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal and said the government wanted across-the-board accountability. Mr Khan, who is also facing a NAB case relating to misuse of the KP government’s helicopter, said he had asked the NAB chief to continue the indiscriminate accountability process in the country. About the cases of other PTI leaders, the premier said he was not responsible for the past of his party’s leaders and ministers and promised that he would not spare anyone of them if they were found involved in corruption.
Responding to a question about the use of official chopper for travelling from the PM House to his residence at Banigala, Mr Khan said he used the helicopter to avoid causing traffic jams because of official and security protocol of the prime minister.
He defended the appointment of Usman Buzdar as Punjab chief minister and said: “Those who are criticising him [Buzdar] today will appreciate him after three months.”
He reiterated that he would turn the palatial PM House into an educational institution, saying the government’s austerity campaign was under way.
About the transfer of the Pakpattan DPO after the altercation with Khawar Maneka, the prime minister backed his wife’s former husband and said: “The police officers trained guns at Khawar Maneka and his family.” He said he was satisfied with the Supreme Court’s notice taken on the incident.
Fawad Chaudhry told media persons at a separate event that the army chief had assured the prime minister that like all other institutions the army was also subservient to the government and bound to implement all decisions to be taken by the government. The government and the army were on the same page, he added.
According to him, Imran Khan said during the meeting at the GHQ that the government alone could not meet the gigantic challenges and needed a joint strategy and efforts of all institutions to cope up with these.
Defending the prime minister in the NAB case of misuse of KP government’s official helicopter, Fawad Chaudhry said Mr Khan had not misused the official chopper, but former chief minister Pervez Khattak. “Not Imran Khan but Mr Khattak was accused of misusing the official chopper. However, Mr Khattak was of the view that he used the helicopter for inspecting provincial government’s projects,” he asserted.
He said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children had also misused PM House’s two aircraft and Punjab government’s helicopters for which a notice would soon be served on them. “Hassan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz used official helicopter of the Punjab government that caused a loss of around Rs24 million. We will serve them a notice to recover the money,” he maintained.
The information minister said the family of former Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif had also used official helicopters for personal visits and the expenses borne by the state on these trips were higher than the losses caused by the Sharif family.
He defended Imran Khan for using the official chopper to travel between the PM House and his residence at Banigala and said it cost Rs55 per nautical mile. He opened Google in his mobile phone and showed reporters the estimates regarding the traveling cost by helicopter. “However, these expenses exclude pilot’s fee and maintenance cost of the chopper,” he said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan held separate meetings with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and a delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and discussed with them issues facing the province and Karachi.
The prime minister reiterated his commitment to ridding the citizens of Karachi of multiple problems such as water scarcity and prolonged loadshedding and poor sanitation.
The MQM delegation included federal ministers Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Farogh Naseem and Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar.
Mr Khan said Karachi had played a vital role in the progress of the country but it was unfortunate that many areas of the country’s commercial hub had no basic civic facilities.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2018