KARACHI: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, while announcing a package of Rs25 billion for Karachi and Rs5 billion for Hyderabad, said his government would carry forward the policies made under Nawaz Sharif, who he still considers as ‘prime minister’.
Talking to media on Saturday at the Karachi Airport, after his first visit to the city as prime minister, Abbasi said that deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif had accepted the Supreme Court’s decision and his GT Road rally was not against any institution or person, but he was only going back to his hometown, Lahore.
“Nawaz Sharif is a political leader and he has the right to do politics,” he stressed.
The prime minister spent a busy day in Karachi. He visited Mazar-e-Quaid and held separate meetings with the business community as well as leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) at the Governor House. He also reviewed the city’s law and order situation.
The PM said that the Rs25 billion to be given under the Karachi Package would be spent for developing infrastructure, promoting industries and resolving water and traffic issues. He said the federal government had already given Karachi the Green Line Project which would be completed soon.
Talking about his meeting with MQM leaders, Abbasi said, “During the election of prime minister, they unconditionally supported me. The MQM is a political party and their genuine issues will be resolved.”
After his meeting with the prime minister, MQM leader Farooq Sattar informed the media that the issues that came under discussion pertained to their sealed offices, missing persons of their parties and development packages for the city.
“The PM has assured us of resolving our problems, and we want a strong and long-term relationship with PML-N,” he said.
Earlier, as Prime Minister Abbasi arrived in the city, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Governor Muhammad Zubair received him. He, along with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, visited Mazar-e-Quaid to pay paid homage to the Father of the Nation.
Later, the PM went to the Governor House and chaired a meeting on the law and order situation in the city. The chief minister, governor, Corps Commander Karachi, DG Rangers, provincial chief secretary, IGP Sindh and other officials attended the meeting.
“The law enforcers have played a significant role in controlling the worst law and order over the last four years. The paramilitary force will remain in the city till its past glory is restored,” said the PM while lauding the services of police and law enforcement agencies.
He reaffirmed his government’s commitment to continue Karachi operation till its logical end. “I give a free hand for taking action against terrorists belonging to banned organisations, target killers, extortionists, street criminals and land mafia,” he said and assured support of the intelligence agencies in tracking down the hideouts of terrorists.
“We have seen the normalcy because of the sacrifices rendered by law enforcers,” he said, adding that the government writ would be established at any cost to restore Karachi’s status as the city of lights.
The PM also held a meeting with the business community, including office-bearers of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and the Pakistan Business Council at the Governor House on Saturday.
The Sindh governor, the interior minister, the State Bank of Pakistan governor and the chairman FBR were also present during the meeting.
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“I will continue meeting with the business community in future,” he said, adding that the PML-N government, after evolving consensus among all the stakeholders and due to the unmatched sacrifices of the law enforcement and security agencies, had restored peace and glory of the financial hub of the country.
He assured consolidation of the gains on the security as well as trade and economic front.
“If the economy is not strong, the country will not grow,” the PM said, enumerating the government’s objectives as economic growth, creation of jobs and increase in tax collection.
“In fact, the objectives of the government and those of the business community are the same. If the business community does not grow, the government will not be able to achieve its objectives,” he said.
Abbasi assured the business community that their proposals for economic growth and increase in investment would be honoured. He stressed the need for working in unison for achievement of “our shared objectives”.
“Collectively, we will resolve the issues confronting us. I will be holding frequent interactions with you in coming days to seek your valuable proposals and suggestions in this regard,” he said.
Members of the business community congratulated Abbasi on assuming the office of the PM and thanked him for meeting them on his first visit to Karachi.
According to the PM’s spokesperson, the business leaders lauded the gains in the security situation, and improvement in macroeconomic outlook of the country. They individually shared their views regarding the economic challenges ahead and apprised the PM of the issues faced by them regarding increase in imports, cost of doing business, trade and tariff, and taxation. They also shared their findings after the formation of a committee during interaction with former PM Nawaz Sharif.
The prime minister held separate meeting with the Sindh chief minister and the governor at the Governor House. Matters of political significance as well as federal and provincial relations were discussed during the meetings.
PM Abbasi asked the CM to play his role in forging working relationship with the local government and improvement in the security situation in the province. He reaffirmed commitment of the federal government to work with the provincial government for development in the province.
The governor briefed the PM on initiatives taken for development and for restoring confidence of the business community. The PM was also briefed on a plan to address deficit in the infrastructure development projects in the province in general and Karachi in particular. Before returning to Islamabad, the PM also visited leprosy centres.
The PM also held a meeting with former CM and PML-N Sindh president Ghous Ali Shah, who has now parted ways with the party. Sources said that the PM conveyed Nawaz Sharif’s message to him to shun the differences and rejoin the PML-N.
After his meeting, the prime minister told the media that he had been a close friend of Ghous Ali Shah and wanted to meet him. “We have been jailed together, and Shah had been one of the senior leaders of our party,” he told journalists.