Gandapur-COAS interaction limited to pleasantries

K-P CM says Imran open to negotiation for country’s sake

Our Correspondent May 26, 2024
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur (L), Army Chief General Syed Asim Munir (R). PHOTO: FILE


Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur on Saturday stated that he had interacted with the army chief, General Syed Asim Munir, on two occasions, clarifying that these meetings did not involve discussions about PTI founder Imran Khan.

"I exchanged greetings with the army chief twice. However, there is no benefit in discussing matters at such a place," Gandapur told journalists on Saturday after the apex committee meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

The SIFC is a government agency aimed at attracting foreign investments and fostering the nation's economic growth. Chaired by the prime minister, the council includes all provincial chief ministers and the army chief.

According to Gandapur, during the SIFC meeting, former prime minister Imran Khan, who has been facing legal challenges and has been imprisoned since August last year, was not discussed.

Gandapur reiterated that securing Imran Khan's freedom is their top priority. "We are leading a movement to ensure his release. Negotiations have also commenced in this regard, with Imran Khan forming a negotiation team."

He expressed hope that the months of May and June would bring positive outcomes for Imran Khan and the PTI, which has faced a crackdown since the riots on May 9, 2023.

On May 9, 2023, widespread protests erupted nationwide after paramilitary Rangers arrested Imran Khan from the Islamabad High Court premises in connection with a corruption case.

During these protests, alleged workers and supporters damaged state and army properties and memorials. This led to a massive crackdown on the former ruling party.

On the first anniversary of the May 9 incidents, the military's media wing demanded an unconditional apology from the PTI founder, a request rejected by Imran. However, later, Imran authorized some party leaders to engage in talks with the authorities.

Gandapur emphasized that Imran has consistently expressed readiness to negotiate for Pakistan. He highlighted that false cases were filed against PTI leaders and workers, many of which are now receiving favorable verdicts in courts.

"If anyone chooses to engage in dialogue with us to resolve the issue, we are prepared. They can even meet Imran Khan in Adiala Jail," he remarked.

He clarified that the K-P government would not compromise on the province's share and that he participated in the apex committee meeting to represent the province's interests.

"There are abundant investment opportunities in K-P, particularly in the mining and tourism sectors. For this purpose, we have also established companies," he added.

Gandapur stressed that the purpose of establishing these companies is to attract foreign investment. "We welcome investment from the private sector or through the SIFC," he stated.

He highlighted the significant potential for investment in tourism and K-P's agriculture sector.

He stated that these matters were discussed in the meeting, expressing hope that the prime minister would play a role in ensuring food security.

Gandapur mentioned that industrial zones are being set up to attract investment and generate employment opportunities for youth. "We will spare no effort to provide relief to the province's people because they have entrusted us with this mandate," he affirmed.

He made it clear that if the province's outstanding dues are not paid, the provincial government will take action. Gandapur also stated that imposing taxes on former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) is not feasible, and thus, taxes will not be included in the budget.

Regarding the presentation of the provincial budget prior to the federal budget, he emphasized that it is not unconstitutional. "Our preparations were complete, so we presented the budget," he asserted.

Responding to a question, the chief minister stated that if he had not been invited to the SIFC meeting, it would not have impacted the province. "However, I eventually participated in the meeting to advocate for my province," he concluded.


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