KARACHI: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday defended the criticism by Nawaz Sharif of his disqualification, saying his leader was not undermining any institution but only sharing his thoughts with people which was his right by all means.
Responding to reporters’ questions minutes before his departure for Islamabad after a daylong visit to Karachi, at the Old Terminal of Quaid-i-Azam International Airport, Mr Abbasi rejected all objections to Mr Sharif’s ongoing rhetoric about the apex court’s judges who had disqualified him.
“He is still my leader,” the premier said in reply to a question. “And whatever Mian Sahab has said recently, he has done nothing wrong. He has accepted and respected the [court’s] decision…and he is only sharing his thoughts about the decision. It doesn’t mean undermining any institution. He has not targeted any individual or any institution.”
Rs25 billion uplift package announced for Karachi; MQM-P assured its complaints will be addressed
Answering a question about his term in office, Mr Abbasi remained non-committal, saying he was only toeing his party’s — the PML-N’s — line in this regard and whenever the party would decide he would quit the office immediately.
The prime minister spent a busy day in the city. He chaired back-to-back meetings at the Governor House and met different delegations. After arriving in Karachi along with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and some other members of his cabinet, the PM visited the Quaid’s mausoleum to pay homage to the Father of the Nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
Presiding over a meeting that discussed the security situation “in the province in general and Karachi in particular,” Mr Abbasi expressed his “concern” over a surge in crime rate in the metropolis.
“The peace and tranquillity in Karachi shall be maintained at all costs,” a statement issued after the meeting quoted the PM as saying. “The federal government is concerned at the recent surge in street crime in Karachi, which can compromise the gains made through sustained efforts of four years. There is a need for activating all intelligence resources to arrest this alarming trend.”
Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Shahid Baig Mirza, Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja and other senior security officials attended the meeting, said the statement.
During a meeting with the business community and leaders of the Pakistan Business Council, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he assured them that their proposals for economic growth and increase in investment would be given due consideration.
“There is a convergence of interests between the government and the business community, as both are determined for economic growth and improvement in business atmosphere in the country,” he said.
The prime minister announced a Rs25 billion development package for Karachi and Rs5bn for Hyderabad to be provided by the federal government.
Meets MQM delegation
One of the most significant engagements of the prime minister was his meeting with the leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) at the Governor House.
Led by Dr Farooq Sattar, the MQM-Pakistan leaders shared “their grievances”, mostly related to political activities and the issues being faced by the party’s elected municipal administration.
The PM during his interaction with the media at the airport hinted at his role to address the MQM-Pakistan’s “complaints”.
“The MQM voted for my election as prime minister not against any demand or condition,” he emphasised. “In today’s meeting again, there was no demand or condition. They only shared their thoughts or concerns regarding issues in Karachi and Hyderabad. So I have promised them that I’d look into those issues and try to sort them out through joint efforts.”
PM Abbasi also visited the Marie Adelaide Leprosy Centre where he condoled with the staff on the death of Dr Ruth Pfau.