PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday that Pakistan has arranged the US-Taliban talks to be held next week and if peace achieved in neighbouring Afghanistan, Peshawar would be the centre of trade and tourism in the years to come.
Khan arrived in Peshawar on a day-long visit, during which he inaugurated a shelter home, addressed an event to mark the first 100 days of the provincial government held talks with Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mehmood Khan at the Governor’s House on matters pertaining to the wellbeing of the people.
Addressing the 100 days performance ceremony, at the Nishtar Hall, Khan said the US request for Pakistan’s cooperation for peace process vindicated his stance on the Afghan conflict. “There is no military solution to the Afghan issue and it should be resolved through dialogue,” he said.
At the ceremony, the prime minister was briefed by K-P finance minister Taimoor Jhagra about the reforms introduced by the government in its first 100 days in office, which included education, police, health and many other areas.
the prime minister told the provincial lawmakers that in the past Pakistan had been taking dictation from the US. “… [the US] always directed us to do more, now it is asking us to facilitate talks with the Afghan Taliban,” he noted. “I’ve always pleaded to the world that Afghanistan issues could not be resolved without dialogued but they labelled me as Taliban Khan.”
He disclosed that the US and Afghan Taliban talks are scheduled for 17th of this month with the efforts of Pakistan. “If peace prevailed in our neighbour, this provincial capital of K-P will be the hub of tourism and commerce,” he added.
Underlining the importance of investment for economic development, Khan said the government would ensure ease of doing business. He also advised the K-P government to remove bottlenecks in the way of attracting investment.
“A large number of local and foreign investors want to invest in Pakistan. Several major international companies, including the world largest oil and gas exploration company ExxonMobil, have expressed keenness for it,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister expressed the confidence that Peshawar would become a hub of economic activity and tourism after implementation of the projects being executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
He said the Bala Hissar Fort would be made centre of tourism, and it would be opened for public. He added the old Peshawar city will be developed to preserve the city’s ancient culture, which represented 2,000-year-old civilisation.
While coming down hard on the previous Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government in Punjab, saying that it spent billions of rupees on the development sector to influence in the general election, 2018.
On the contrary, he added, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was voted to power for its performance and because it delivered to the masses. “We delivered to the masses of K-P and they have given us another chance to perform,” he added.
“The people of Punjab were in the wrong habit for the past 30 years of seeing a chief minister who acts like a king,” he said. In comparison, he continued, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had been a “simple man” who did not use a heavy protocol or spend lavishly.
The prime minister stressed that the PTI did not use any “traditional, political tactics” to win the elections. “The K-P province had never re-elected any party, but for the PTI they have not only re-elected us, but also supported us with huge mandate.”
While warning his own party’s ministers and bureaucracy of the country, Prime minister Khan said that strict action would be taken against those found taking their responsibilities for granted and did not perform their duties with honesty.
“I will eventually come to know which ministers are not spending full time at their offices and those found violating rules will be sent packing,” Khan told the ceremony. “We will not only take strict action but will sack bureaucrats creating hurdles,” he added.
“You are elected representatives … people will beat you if they find you letting them down,” the prime minister said. “They [people] will not listen to excuses that the bureaucracy didn’t let you work,” he warned all the lawmakers present on the occasion.
Prime Minister Khan praised Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, saying he was “an honest and simple man” and that he [the premier] “completely trusts” his honesty. “No matter how intelligent a man is, if he isn’t honest or simple, he is of no use,” he added.
About the future plans of the government, he said the provincial government had identified 25 initiatives to pursue in the next five years. He added the government was focused on improving education, health and investment sectors to boost the living standard of the people.
In the health sector, the K-P government planned to recruit 4,000 lady health workers to ensure coverage of all rural areas, in addition to rolling out a rural ambulance service to transport mothers and children to health facilities. The government would ensure that 80% childbirths take place in health facilities.
In the agricultural sector, the government planned to introduce a functional information technology (IT)-based market intelligence system to increase farmers profitability by 15-20%. The provincial government also sought to reclaim 5,500 hectares of cultivatable wastelands.
He said that K-P would become the first province to launch police station-based budget this year along with a fourfold increase in the number of female police officers. He added that steps were being taken to introduce a uniform curriculum across the country.
Regarding local government system in K-P, Khan said village councils would be strengthened and Tehsil Nazims would be directly elected so that they could serve people independently. He also urged the government to ensure implementation of the law related to the decision of civil cases within one year.
About erstwhile Fata’s merger with K-P, Khan said it was a difficult task but the government had been working to complete the process. “A roadmap is being prepared for the development of the tribal areas,” he said, adding: “Insaf health cards will be given to tribesmen to provide them better healthcare.”
Shelter home inaugurated
Prime Minister Khan, who earlier inaugurated a shelter for the homeless in the K-P capital, said he was happy to see the facility. Chief Minister Mehmood Khan has named the place as a guesthouse, not a shelter home. He will make five more such shelter homes,” he told the ceremony.
The prime minister said that the decision of setting up shelters for the homeless in various cities indicated the PTI’s mindset of helping the poor. He urged the KP government to establish parks and playgrounds in the province including erstwhile Fata to promote positive activities among the youth.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Khan, accompanied by Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, inaugurated state-of-the-art shelters homes for orphans, street children and homeless people on Pajagai Road. The prime minister unveiled the plaque of the project, which was part of the 100-days plan of the PTI government in K-P.
The shelter will accommodate 432 people at a time and the people there would be provided food. The prime minister visited various sections of facility in and witnessed its medical section. On the occasion, the chief minister gave a briefing to the prime minister about the facility.
Later, he met with Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and Governor Shah Farman and received a briefing about the merger process of ex-Fata agencies the development projects of KP. Khan directed the chief minister to complete various development projects at the earliest.