Decision on caretaker PM likely today

F.P. Report
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday expressed the hope that the decision on name of caretaker prime minister would be finalised by Saturday.
The prime minister, in a farewell interaction with the PM beat reporters here, said he would meet the heads of coalition parties on Friday night to discuss the matter which would follow his meeting with Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz on Friday or Saturday.
He explained that in case of their inability to evolve consensus on a single name, the matter would be referred to the parliamentary committee with a mandate to dispose it of within three days. In case of no agreement at that committee level, the matter would be taken up by the Election Commission who would have to take the final decision within two days.
Responding to a question about the letter written by President Arif Alvi to him and the opposition leader to finalise the name by August 12, the prime minister said the procedure was very clear in the constitution. He said the 16 months of his stint were the most difficult time of his 38-year political career. However, consequent to the teamwork and efforts of all the stakeholders made the government achieve success on different fronts.
He said the government machinery worked round the clock during the floods and Rs100 billion was disbursed by the previous government, besides the ones distributed by the provinces and the relevant departments. He said the agreement with the IMF was a great challenge that was surmounted by the team’s efforts otherwise, the country could have faced chaos.
Recounting his government’s success at the diplomatic front, the prime minister said they had improved the ties with friendly countries which were strained during the previous government through baseless allegations. He said the inflation had touched 12.55 which was just 3.5% during the Nawaz Sharif’s tenure.
He said the government had to spend $2 billion to import wheat following the reduced production. Without naming the news story about the cipher, the prime minister said, “What happened yesterday has exposed everything.” He said the oil prices were not in the government’s control; however, they passed on the impact whenever there was any decline. He told the newsmen that the government had put in place a mechanism in the form of Special Investment Facilitation Council which was a vision for country’s progress and prosperity.
Meanwhlile, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also said there was no restriction on Pakistan Muslim League-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to contest the election as he had completed his five-year disqualification period.
“As far as Nawaz Sharif is concerned, that law is in the field now under which the maximum disqualification period is five years. There is no restriction on Nawaz Sharif as he has completed his five-year disqualification,” the prime minister said in an interview with a private television channel (Samaa News). He said the new law promulgated by the Parliament had overwritten the previous law which the Supreme Court has not yet annulled.
“Inshallah, I am sure that he will return by next month… He will face the law. The nation will receive him warmly… He will run the election campaign and all of us will be with him,” he stated. Commenting about the Supreme Court’s decision on the Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023, the prime minister said the legislature had all the powers of lawmaking.
“This is the first time in the history. I have not seen it happening anywhere in the world that legislation is stopped in anticipation,” he remarked and said the legislation was the job of Parliament, not the Supreme Court. Regarding the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief, he said the court would decide his fate as he had no role in that regard. However, he said the NAB-Niazi nexus victimised him and his family, Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, and sister of Asif Ali Zardari when they were also denied bail.
Contrarily, the PTI government obtained stay orders in the cases of the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit), wheat and sugar scandals. He told the interviewer that inflation touched 12.5% during the previous government which stood at just 3.5% during Nawaz Sharif’s tenure. Prime Minister Shehbaz said his government reduced oil prices based on international rates after regular reviews, but had to increase them due to global market fluctuations.
He said the government spent Rs 40-50 billion for distributing free flour during Ramazan to support the poor. Additionally, it also provided cross-subsidy to those consuming up to 200 units of electricity per month. However, he said, it was unrealistic to expect economic growth amidst incidents like the one on May 9, which was treason against Pakistan, the Pakistan Army, and the Chief of the Army Staff.” To a question, he said the controversy over the appointment of the army chief was not a positive tradition. In other countries, such appointments were not publicized.
The prime minister brushed aside PTI chief’s claim of any conspiracy by the United States in the cipher as that time Pakistan’s ambassador, in the National Security Committee, had explained that there was no conspiracy to topple the government. Coming to the approval of census, the prime minister said the government convened the meeting of the Council of Common Interests within few days of the completion of census. As per the CCI decision, the election would be held under the new census, he added. Reiterating his desire for elections as early as possible, the prime minister said the Election Commission had the mandate to hold the polls. After the elections, whatsoever the government was formed, they should put the politics of accusations and mudslinging to rest which also strained the foreign relations, he added.
Shehbaz pays tribute to minorities for their contribution in nation-building: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif paid tributes to the minorities for their contribution in nation-building and socio-economic development of the country.
“On the National Day of Minorities, I join the nation in paying rich tributes to our non-Muslim citizens for their valuable contributions in nation-building and assure them of the government’s consistent and unwavering commitment to protecting their rights,” the prime minister said in a message in connection with the Day.
He said today the nation celebrated the role and contributions of the non-Muslim citizens for peace, progress and prosperity of Pakistan on the National Day of Minorities. “Our minority communities are part and parcel of the Pakistani nationalism. From the freedom struggle to this day, they have contributed meaningfully to building the country. From defence to education to health to social service, there is no walk of life where our non-Muslim brothers and sisters have not played their role in the socio-economic development of the country,” he added.
The Day, he said also drew the attention to Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s historic speech at the floor of the legislative assembly where he laid down the rules of engagement for the citizens with the newly created state of Pakistan. “The very idea of Pakistan is incomplete without our non-Muslim citizens. The ‘white’ colour of our flag symbolizes their place in the body politic of Pakistan,” he added. PM Shehbaz said from Jogendranath Mandal, Pakistan’s first law minister to Dr. Maira Phailbus to Dr Ruth Pfau to Justice Dorab Patel, the list of our Pakistani non-Muslim personalities of eminence was long whose contributions to public service continued to be celebrated.
He said interfaith harmony was a marked feature of the national identity. Pakistan is a strong advocate of pluralism, and diversity. “Our Constitution guarantees the provision of social, political, religious and economic rights to all citizens without any discrimination of caste, creed and colour,” he said adding “I am happy to state that the empowerment of our minority communities has taken the center-stage of public policy, as successive governments have allocated resources and implemented policies aimed at their mainstreaming and empowerment”.
The prime minister urged all segments of society to forge unity in their ranks. He said nothing was more powerful than the spirit of togetherness in a nation, for it powered its imagination and strengthened its resolve to overcome the odds. “‘Unity, faith and discipline’, the Quaid’s motto, shows us the way forward to navigate the challenges.” he added.
PM decides to award ‘Tamgha-i-Imtiaz’ to doctors & health workers martyred during COVID-19: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif decided to award ‘Tamgha-i-Imtiaz’ (posthumously) to the doctors and health workers who were martyred while providing medical treatment and care to the patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was decided that Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (posthumously) would be awarded to 81 doctors from Punjab, 87 from Sindh, 23 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, eight from Balochistan, four from Azad Jammu and Kahsmir, and one each from Gilgit Baltistan and Islamabad. Likewise 59 nurses and frontline health workers from across Pakistan would also be honoured with Tamgha-i-Imtiaz (posthumously) for their services and saving lives of people without caring about their lives during the corona pandemic.
The prime minister, in a statement, paid tributes to the doctors and frontline health workers who served the corona patients risking their own lives. “These sons and daughters of the soil embraced martyrdom from this deadly pandemic while fulfilling their responsibilities” and the whole nation would remain indebted to them, he added. PM Shehbaz also paid tributes to the family members of the martyred doctors and health workers, saying that they were pride of the nation.