LAHORE: State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Farrukh Habib said on Monday that opposition parties should abandon childish politics on electoral reforms in the country and embrace the reality of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and right of vote to the overseas Pakistanis.
Speaking at ‘Meet the Press’ of the Lahore Press Club, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan had invited the opposition parties for a dialogue on electoral reforms from the floor of the National Assembly (NA), adding that if the opposition still stays away, the people were forced to believe that there was a mole in thief’s beard.
To a question, Farrukh Habib said that Prime minister Imran Khan would fulfill all promises made with the masses in election manifesto, adding that the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) government would woo voters in the next general election 2023 on the basis of its five-year performance.
He said the government had strengthened country’s economy through various wealth generation policies, adding that country’s foreign remittances stand at 29 billion dollars today which was 10 billion dollars higher than what the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) left in 2018.
The State Minister said that services exports had been catapulted to 31 billion dollars which stood at 24 billion dollars in 2018, adding that the PTI government had breathed a new life in the textile industry although the PML-N government had turned the Faisalabad industries into a graveyard.
He said the PTI government had provided relief to the textile industry and today it was one of the most thriving sectors of the country, adding that all sectors had witnessed progress under the PTI government.
Farrukh said that people must bear in mind that PTI government had inherited merely 15 days foreign reserves when it came into power, adding that the PTI was not transferred economies like China,Germany, France and the United States. He said Prime Minister understood the enormity of situation and accepted the challenge of putting the country on the right path.
“The GDP growth was forecast at 1.5 percent but the PTI government has achieved a growth of four percent while the exports have risen tremendously”, he responded, adding that the foreign remittance remained frozen at 19 billion dollars between 2016-18.
He said the Prime Minister Imran Khan had introduced ‘National Agriculture Transformation Plan’ to bring to an end country’s dependence on agriculture imports, adding that the country had to import edible oil and pulses from abroad despite being an agri economy. He said that Rs 1 billion had been earmarked to increase olive produce.
On dearness, he said dearness was an international phenomenon and it was its worst high in other parts of the world, adding that the dearness could not impact Pakistan as worse due to the policies of Prime Minister Imran Khan during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The State Minister said the government had a comprehensive plan to store water for the crops,adding that 13 million acres agriculture land would be irrigated in the next 10 years through the water reservoirs. He said, 35 percent work had been completed on Mehmand Dam while Dasu, Diamir-Bhasha dams would produce 4500 MW electricity.
On improving lives of man in the street, he said ‘Kamyab Pakistan Program’ would improve the standards of six million families, adding that interest-free loans of Rs 500,000 would be provided while an easy loan of Rs 2 million will be given for building homes.
He said the construction of home was a dream while under the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision a low-income family could own a home instead of living in a rented house for the rest of life.
He said under the scheme the banks had disbursed home loans of Rs 38 billion to the applicants so far while loan applications of Rs 100 billion were received over the past few months.
He said the Ravi Riverfront City would lay the foundation of a new city to meet the future challenges of population and infrastructure, adding that the PTI government was establishing Central Business districts in all major cities including Lahore besides constructing expressway on Nullah Leh.
He said that Press Club and the Information Ministry were closely linked, adding that it was government’s priority to strengthen links with the press clubs and the journalist community of the country.
About providing homes to the journalists, he said that plots would be given to journalists in the LDA City Phase-II, adding that journalists would also be given Insaaf Health Cards and the Punjab government had allocated Rs 60 billion for this purpose under which a family could get a treatment of Rs 1 million during the year.
To a question, the State Minister said the government was working on the Media Development Authority in consultation with all stakeholders, adding that 10,500 applications were received in the Implementation Tribunal for Newspapers Employees (ITNE) but the ratio of decisions was low.
To a query, he said that PPP government had approached the IMF on eight occasions while the PML-N government had sought IMF help on three occasions in the past, adding that Rs 3412 billion would be given to the province under the NFC with Rs 128 billion to be transferred to Sindh province for non-development funds.
To a question, he said, if Prime Minister Imran Khan could say no to US President Joe Biden, then no one blackmail the premier, adding that there was no word like ‘blackmail’ in the dictionary of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
About Fazlur Rehman’s absence from mainstream political scene, the State Minister said that Fazlur Rehman’s problem was provision of ‘Easy Load’, adding that his batteries would remain out of order as long as he was not provided with sufficient ‘Easy Load’.
Fazlur Rehman has been rejected by the masses and he would continue to lead the rejected leaders like Maryam Nawaz Sharif and others in politics.
Ishaq Dar had fled the country clandestinely by a Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s airliner, he said, adding that Ishaq Dar had dedicated his life to the economic well-being of Sharif’s wealth as Finance Minister.
On PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, the state minister said Bilawal Bhutto was in a hurry to proceed to the United States but he should first approve the journalist protection bill lying pending in the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the NA.
To a query regarding the Privileges Bill in Punjab Assembly, he said he had consulted with Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on the matter, adding that all the controversial sections of the bill be annulled.
On corruption, he said the corruption had eaten away the fabric of society like termite, adding that system would point out corruption from now onwards although it was not an issue in the past. To another query, Farrukh Habib said the military leadership had taken into confidence all political leadership on national security.