Planning Minister Asad Umar said on Saturday that the federal government is not sending troops to occupy the Sindh islands, as he is trying to calm sentiment in the province over the issuance of the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (Pida) Ordinance.
The minister paid a swift visit to Hyderabad – Sindh’s second-largest city – but did not announce a federally funded development package for the city. He said he had reached an agreement with the Muttahida Qaumi-Pakistan Movement (MQM-P) for such a package.
“We are not sending troops to occupy these islands,” Umar told a news conference, referring to the Bhundar and Dingi islands off the coast of Karachi. Prime Minister Imran Khan has firmly stated that this issue will be resolved by consensus with the provincial government.
Umar addressed a press conference after meeting MQM-P legislators and local leaders at the last zonal office in Bhai Khan Incline. Previously, he also chaired meetings at the local Circuit House and spoke to trade and industry representatives at the Hyderabad Gymkhana.
Investigating further into the controversy surrounding the island’s issue, the planning minister told reporters that the previous federal government of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was also trying to initiate a similar project on these islands.
Why in July this year the Sindh chief minister and the provincial government issued the no objection certificate (NOC) for the two islands to the Center if they opposed the federal project, “the minister asked. “I think only politics is being done on the islands.”
Regarding the 2017 Census data that was sued by MQM-P, a government ally, Umar said that the federal government had formed a cabinet committee, consisting of representatives from all provinces to resolve the issue.
“If the census increases Karachi’s population, Sindh’s share in NFC [National Finance Commission] Federal rewards and resources will also increase. But my question is why haven’t we heard the voice of CM Sindh or the Sindh government on this issue? “
Umar said the way Pakistan Muslim League leader-Nawaz (PML-N) Captain (retired) Safdar was arrested after the October 18 demonstrations of the Pakistan Democratic Movement in Karachi was unnecessary.
“Is the federal government benefiting from Safdar’s arrest. If not, why is the Center doing this?” He asked. “He [Safdar] not a big political ‘Tarzan’, ”he added, referring to the archetypal character created by American fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs.
The minister scoffed at the PML-N leaders’ statement that the PTI government would not finish even the year in power, saying that the people making this hunch were the same who used to say they had no property in Britain or even in Pakistan.
He asked Safdar and other PML-N leaders to apologize to the nation for violating the sanctity of the Quaid-e-Azam mausoleum by raising political slogans there. He also criticized former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, saying he was a convict who had fled the justice system.
During the press conference, the Minister of Finance was also asked about the Supreme Court decision issued on Friday in the case of Judge Qazi Faez Isa. Umar replied that the court itself had come to the conclusion that there were relevant questions about property that needed to be answered. “This means that the court agrees with the assumption that the questions that arise require answers.”
The minister acknowledged that the shortage of gas supply will hit industrial consumers in the coming winter. According to him, the country needs more than 6 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas, but currently it produces less than 4 bcf. “The government is trying to rationalize LNG prices [liquefied natural gas] to make it more affordable. “
Responding to complaints from traders and industry players about the blackout, Umar said there was a surplus of electricity in the country, but electricity distribution companies needed to reform their systems.
On a major federally funded development package for Hyderabad, the minister said he had reached an agreement with MQM-P for such a package. “Great development package [similar to the Karachi package] soon to be planned for Hyderabad, “he told a news conference.
Umar said he discussed the package with opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly Firdous Shamim Naqvi and representatives of MQM-P. “The center wants to agree on a big package for Hyderabad regarding the Karachi package in cooperation with the provincial government,” he said.
However, when asked about the timeframe for when projects under the package would start, the minister said the package would be completed once work on developing the Karachi package became efficient.
Umar claims that he has discussed in the past also plans for jointly implemented development packages for the Sindh interior, including Hyderabad, with Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah.
The minister specifically referred to the federal university project, which is being established in Kohsar, Latifabad, saying that land acquisition continues to be delayed. He assured that he would personally discuss land issues with the chief minister at a meeting on October 26.
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