LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday expressed displeasure over the way the Punjab government had handled the Sahiwal incident and directed Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to ensure that justice was delivered to the bereaved families.
Besides, the prime minister directed his Punjab media team to plead the party’s case strongly before the media and highlight the achievements of the government properly.
During his visit to Lahore, which was the first after the Sahiwal incident that occurred on January 19, the prime minister had a one-on-one meeting with Buzdar and sought a progress report on the tragic incident that claimed four lives. The chief minister briefed the PM about the initial findings of a JIT formed to probe the incident and other developments in the Sahiwal case. Sources say the prime minister expressed dissatisfaction over the way the Sahiwal issue was handled by the Punjab government. He was unhappy over the fact that the incident conveyed a very bad impression of the PTI government and it showed as if the Punjab administration was siding with the police or the Counter Terrorism Department instead of siding with the bereaved families. He directed the chief minister to visit the affected families and ensure justice was done. The prime minister asked the chief minister to look into formation of a judicial commission on the Sahiwal incident. He said the appeal of the Khalil family should be heeded to and action should be taken accordingly.
The PM also had a meeting with Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and discussed with him water supply schemes meant to ensure provision of cleandrinking water to the citizens. Sarwar briefed the prime minister on the initiatives taken by him with the cooperation of philanthropists under which clean drinking water would be ensured in different prisons of Punjab and to the general public.
The prime minister chaired another meeting to discuss measures meant to improve the administrative structure in Punjab. The meeting was attended by the chief minister, federal ministers, provincial ministers and economic experts. Adviser on Finance Salman Shah suggested a new governance structure in Punjab. He said the structure should be formed concerning sectors like services, technology, urbanization and agriculture to be looked after by additional chief secretaries who would maintain coordination with the chief secretary. The PM was also briefed about a development plan for all the 36 districts of Punjab. Imran endorsed the viewpoint that the governance structure needs to be revamped. Noted figures who attended the meeting included Federal Ministers Fawad Chaudhry, Amir Kayani, Special Assistant to PM Naeemul Haq, Punjab Senior Minister Abdul Aleem Khan, Agriculture Minister Malik Nauman Langrial and Industries Minister Aslam Iqbal.
Imran directed the Media Strategy Committee to highlight the achievements of the PTI government and maintain coordination with the press. The prime minister, taking notice of hike in gas bills, directed Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Ghulam Sarwar Khan to conduct an inquiry into the matter. He directed the minister to conduct an immediate inquiry into overbilling. The prime minister said putting extra burden of gas prices on people was unjustified.
Imran also approved the Punjab Spatial Strategy and assured the provincial government of all possible support by the federal government. Briefing the media after the meetings, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had decided to bring large-scale reforms in the Police Department to improve its performance. He said matters pertaining to governance in Punjab and police reforms were discussed during various meetings chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore on Sunday. He said the PM expressed solidarity with the families of the victims of the Sahiwal incident and assured them of justice.
The minister said the first phase of the Sehat Card Scheme would be launched on Monday. Under the Scheme, free healthcare cards worth Rs 0.7m to Rs 0.9m would be provided to deserving segments of the society.
Responding to a question, Fawad said the Pakistan Muslim League supremo Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari would spend rest of their lives in prison or in exile. He said courts would decide the fate of Nawaz and Zardari. He said whenever an influential person goes to jail, he falls ill.
He said the PTI social media wing will be revived and the government will support working journalists in getting their issues resolved with their respective media houses. The prime minister has advised him to hold meetings with owners of media houses to sort out things in an amicable way.
Responding to a question, he said the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has no reservations with the government and both the PTI and the PML-Q will move forward in the best interest of the country. To another question, he said any decision regarding Nawaz’s health will be taken by independent doctors.