ISLAMABAD: Negating the impression that the government was afraid of any protests or sit-ins, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid said that the current situation cannot afford any confrontation and hoped that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman would make a decision in the better interest of the country.
Addressing a news conference in the federal capital, Rashid said that at the time of sit-in by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the situation of the borders was different.
Speaking about his awaited press conference, Rashid remarked he may have his interaction with the media on October 25 as the whole nation was waiting for it.
One of Fazl’s close aides to be arrested soon: Sheikh Rashid
He said though he was not part of the talks between the government and JUI-F, he still prayed for the ulema (religious scholars) who were highly respectable.
The minister said that Pakistan Army was ready to give a befitting response to any Indian aggression.
Rashid maintained if there was a war between Pakistan and India, it would not be limited to bullets and cannons but will be a nuclear one.
Taking note of the railways issues, the minister said that the basic salaries of railways police have been increased by 50% which will bring their basic pay at par with those of civil armed forces, Islamabad police and motorway police.
Rashid maintained that the increase in salary would be borne by the railways.
He said that railways had achieved much higher targets than had been set.
Sheikh Rashid observed that it was for the first time in the history of the country that a free track policy was designed.
He said that private trains could be run as railways was not in a position to carry more passengers and freight.
The minister noted that all railways crossings would be removed and fencing would be erected as soon as the ML1 was operative.
He said that the new trains having a speed of 160km/hour would run that would reach Karachi from Lahore in 8 hours and complete the journey between Lahore and Islamabad in two-and-a-half-hours.
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The federal minister mentioned that currently 129 trains had been made operational and the target was set at 150.
Rashid said that the private trains would only pay rent of the track.
He said there had been an increase of 8 million railway passengers in the past one year.
Meanwhile, speaking to a private new channel, Leader of the House in the Senate Shibli Faraz observed that Maulana Fazlur Rehman wanted to be arrested so that he could "become a hero", but the government had no intention of detaining him.
"Steps, in accordance with the law, will be taken to maintain law and order situation," Faraz said.
Senator Faraz further said that cracks between opposition parties had become obvious by the cancellation of a meeting between Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and the JUI-F delegation, which had been called to initiate negotiations between the government and Fazl’s party.