ISLAMABAD: A day after the Supreme Court suspended the government’s order for the transfer of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) police chief Jan Muhammad, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Tuesday questioned the purpose of holding elections in the country if the elected prime minister could not even suspend an IGP.
On Monday, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar came down hard on the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan and sought a written explanation in connection with the IGP’s transfer while hearing a suo motu case over the issue.
Speaking to the media outside parliament, the information minister said, “Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi had time and again complained to the prime minister that the IG was not cooperating with him in taking action against the sale of ice (crystal methamphetamine) in the capital's schools and colleges and does not attend his phone calls.”
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Chaudhry said an IGP was answerable to the prime minister and the chief minister, adding that it was the responsibility of bureaucrats to follow the government policies.
“The premier has executive powers which he will exercise,” he said. “A narrative is being spread that if officers do not receive ministers’ phone calls they will become heroes. It is not acceptable that chief secretaries and IGPs do not answer telephone calls of ministers.”
Defending PM Imran’s decision, Chaudhry said during PTI’s rule in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, not a single police officer was transferred following complaints.
He said the matter was not an issue of the government or the opposition, adding that all legislators represent the people and should be given due respect otherwise the concept of parliamentary overview would lose its meaning and the country would become an aristocracy ruled by a few bureaucrats.
He said the apex court is a respectable institution, where the government will present its case. However, prime minister and chief minister will not shy away from using their rightful authority, he added.
The information minister said the far-reaching corrective measures taken by the current government restored the confidence of investors and the historic surge in the stock exchange index was its manifestation.
He said the Pakistan Stock Exchange gained 1,450 points due to positive economic indicators and an investment-friendly environment.
“Business in Pakistan is conducive now,” he added.
“These indicators will also help attract foreign and local investment in different sectors, generating fresh economic activities and creating jobs for our youth,” said the minister, adding that the prime minister's recent visit to Saudi Arabia and his upcoming trip to China would help Pakistan overcome all the economic woes left behind by the previous regimes.
The minister also welcomed the Chinese statement on the PM’s upcoming three-day visit to China starting from Friday, saying it will help open a new chapter of bilateral cooperation with Beijing.
“It will further help cement the time-tested relations between the two friendly countries and bring economic stability at home,” said Chaudhry. “The PTI government inherited a huge backlog of foreign loans; however, the government has been able to recover from the economic crisis and financial crunch due to better management of state affairs by the prime minister and his team.”
The information minister said great potential of putting the country on track to progress and prosperity has been shown during the first 70 days the PTI government has spent in power.
On the launch of Pakistan Citizens’ Portal, he said so far over 100,000 complaints had been registered online, of which, about 50 per cent were about Punjab and 20 per cent about Sindh.
The portal will prove a tool to collect data about various departments and officers and help judge their performance, he remarked.
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On the opposition's all-party conference (APC) scheduled for Wednesday (October 31), the information minister said, “It is being held to seek the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).”
However, he said, “There will be no NRO.”
On former premier Nawaz Sharif's arrival at the Parliament House, Chaudhry said, “His (Sharif’s) political career is over now and he comes to meet people at the Parliament House.”
To a question, he said, “If Shehbaz Sharif is appointed chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), will he hold meetings in jail? The opposition has no clean people to forward their names.”
He said the Sharif brothers, Pakistan Peoples Party Co-chairman Asif Zardari and JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman do not want cases to be opened against them; however, PM Imran has categorically stated that there would be no NRO for anyone.
Bani Gala regularisation
On the prime minister's Bani Gala residence, the minister said 30 years ago when the house was constructed it did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and a map was approved from the Mohra Noor Union Council, an authoritative body at that time.
He said, “Now, the area is within the CDA's jurisdiction and the house will be regularised as per the directives of the apex court.”
(With input from APP)
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