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Pakistan to send medical aid to Gaza: Fawad

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Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Tuesday said Pakistan would send coronavirus (COVID-19) and medical emergency relief assistance to Palestine on humanitarian grounds to mitigate sufferings of innocent people there.

The decision to this effect was taken in the Federal Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said while briefing the media persons.

He said the Cabinet thoroughly discussed the prevailing situation in Palestine and expressed deep concern and resentment over the plight of Palestinians.

He said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had gone to Turkey where he held meeting with his Turkish counterpart. He said foreign ministers of different Islamic countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Sudan and Palestine would leave for New York in a group-form to attend the special session of United Nations General Assembly on Palestine.

He said there was extreme resentment in the Muslim countries due to the sufferings of Palestinian people, adding PM Imran Khan from the day one, did provide a leadership role to the Ummah on the issue of Palestine.

Pakistan was the first country that took a strong, clear and unflinching stance on Palestine, he said. He pointed out that parameters of Pakistan’s policy on Palestine had been set by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, adding “today PM Imran Khan is the custodian of that policy.”

He said Pakistan’s leading role in that regard was being acknowledged by the whole Ummah including the Palestinian leadership.

The minister said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had said that whatever he had been thinking for Palestine in his heart and mind, it was exactly translated by PM Imran Khan in words. “It reflects that Imran Khan is playing a leading role for betterment of the Ummah.”

He said the Cabinet members had congratulated the PM on his recent successful visit to Saudi Arabia.

The Information Minister said the cabinet was also briefed on the issue of Rawalpindi Ring Road project based on reports gathered from the Punjab Government.

He said although the project had remained under discussion for the last several years, but it was originally conceived in 2017 to provide a separate passage to the heavy traffic that entered or passed through the Rawalpindi city. In 2018, he said, the initial alignment of the road was approved.

Giving background of the issue, he said Prime Minister Imran Khan had received an anonymous message by someone, who claimed to be an engineer associated with the Ring Road project, that the road’s alignment had been changed especially at the Sanjgani point, which had narrowed the passage making it dangerous for vehicular movement.

Upon which, he said, the prime minister ordered an initial inquiry. When questioned the authorities concerned informed him (PM) that ‘no alignment had been changed’.

The PM, he said, had decided to hold an independent investigation into the matter and initial probe confirmed that not only the road alignment had been changed, but a 29-kilometer additional stretch also included in the project towards Attock to get the housing societies in the loop.

As a result of the investigation, Fawad said, billions of rupees’ embezzlement was avoided as under the new alignment additional land amounting to Rs 23 billion had to be acquired including a major portion in Attock. “Currently, Rs 2.3 billion has been paid for the land acquisition, but the amount will be taken back.”

“According to the initial report, the alignment has been changed to give benefit to some individuals, while addition of a 29-kilomtere stretch was made to benefit to some housing societies directly,” he said while clarifying that there was no mention of Special Assistant to the PM Zulfikar Bukhari and Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in the inquiry report.
He regretted that on social media names of the ministers were quoted for their involvement in the scam without any proof.

He said Zulfikar Bukhari had already resigned as the SAPM to face the inquiry, while Ghulam Sarwar Khan had categorically denied his or any of his family members’ involvement in the issue.

The minister said the inquiry revealed that the government had averted the loot of national wealth, and it was not as it was being propagated that the public money had sunk.

He said the opposition leaders should correct themselves that the government had saved the national wealth by taking a timely action.

Fawad said the anti-corruption agencies and departments concerned were going to hold a thorough investigation in the matter.

He said across the board accountability was the hallmark of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, and it had initiated inquiries against the allegations, no matter levelled against whosever.

He said it was only possible in the Imran Khan’s government that the allegations were probed, if levelled against whosoever. While contrary to it during the tenures of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party, the media had been highlighting wrongdoings loud and clear, but all went unheard.

He said the principle of ‘answerability’ would be implemented on everyone facing any accusations. It was the change in the system that had been promised by the PTI before coming into power.

As regards the Palestine issue, he said Pakistan desired unity of the Muslim Ummah, expressing hope that the entire Muslim nations would raise unanimous voice for the Palestine issue at the United Nations General Assembly.

To a query, Fawad said the Competition Commission of Pakistan had been made more functional, institutions being strengthened and cartelization dismantled.

To another query, he said discussions with the British authorities were underway to ease quarantine restrictions over the overseas Pakistanis.

He added that the Pakistan Foreign office also took up the issue of travel restrictions on Pakistanis with the Saudi government.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had a clear stance on Kashmir, if India wanted dialogue it would have to take back unilateral action of August 5, 2019.

“Pakistanis’ hearts beat with those of their Kashmiri brothers and the country will continue to extend political, diplomatic and moral support to the Kashmiris,” he remarked.

Briefing the media on other the cabinet’s decisions, he said the meeting had given approval of Regular Public Transport License to Ms/ Fly Jinnah Services (private) Limited.

He said the cabinet had given the green light for transshipment of a container of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) from Karachi to Kabul.

He said it gave approval for issuing a commemorative coin on the occasion of 70 years of Pakistan-China diplomatic relations.

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