Sheikh Rashid hints at more changes in federal cabinet

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid says Asad Umar to be inducted again

Our Correspondent May 12, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Predicting a return of former finance minister Asad Umar to the federal cabinet, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed raised the possibility of another set of changes to portfolios.

“Asad Umar is not inexperienced and he will be made part of the cabinet again very soon," Rashid said while addressing a press conference in Lahore.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced a major reshuffle last month, with the key portfolios of the finance, interior and information ministries seeing new faces, hours after Asad Umar’s removal.

Responding to a query regarding the accountability drive, Rashid said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was also responsible for causing losses to the national exchequer and that he would soon be in the grip of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Upon being asked about fellow Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen, Rashid termed him ‘useful’.

On inflation, he said that the public should be ready for another round of increase in prices, while blaming the previous government of creating an economic mess.

They plundered the country’s wealth and laundered it abroad, he said. “The Sharif family has nothing in Pakistan. One brother (Shehbaz) has locked himself up in London while the other (Nawaz) was trying to move abroad despite being a convicted criminal,” he added.

When asked about the Pakistan Peoples Party leader, Rashid said, “I will not talk about Bilawal (Bhutto Zardari) the entire Ramzan.”

Talking about the increasing prices, Rashid said that railway fares would be increased after Eidul Fitr owing to the increase in fuel prices. The minister said that fares for the air conditioned sleeper class would be increased by Rs100, while those of the economy class could be increased by Rs50. He added that there were no plans to privatise the railways.

He said efforts were being made to implement the decision of the judiciary regarding Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) within 15 days. Rashid added that KCR could be developed through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor funding.

He said that his department was collaborating with the Sindh government regarding the recovery of encroached land belonging to the railways, adding that a team had been formed in this regard.

Moreover, he said that the railways was collaborating with the local authorities to ensure law and order in order to expedite efforts for the revival of the circular railway.

He informed the media that the prime minister would inaugurate the Sir Syed Ahmed Express on June 15. It will run from Rawalpindi to Karachi. “The train will have economy class and efforts will be made to ensure that fares in that class are not increased.”

Rashid also condemned the suicide attack outside the shrine of Data Ganj Baksh in Lahore, calling it an attempt by the enemy to weaken Pakistan internally. “Terrorism is not an organisation and a suicide attacker cannot be stopped.”

Speaking about developments in the railways, he said that the mobile application was being developed for iPhone as well apart from android. He added that steps were being taken for an increase of one grade in the pay of labourers and to provide them with health cards.

Rashid also disclosed that a new track of 1,800 km will be laid under the ML-1. It will have no crossing while a state-of-the-art signal system would be installed, he added.

Apart from that, he said that the tender for ML-2 and ML-3 has been given, terming it a historic moment for the country. He added that the ministry has received overwhelming praise for the work it undertook in Nankana Sahib, Hassan Abdal and Panja Sahib to facilitate Sikh pilgrims, adding that Sikh organisations now wanted a five-star hotel built in the areas.



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