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Premier reiterates resolve to uphold transparency

-Visits Peshawar
-Reviews development progress
-Claims to accept Supreme Court’s verdict on Senate election
-Aims to boost strategies for the betterment of future generations
-Plans to depart for Sri Lankan visit today

Bureau Report

PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday reiterated his resolve to uphold transparency in the democratic system as his politics was aimed at serving the masses and working for the betterment of coming generations.
He was chairing a meeting of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet and PTI’s members of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly here at the Governor House. KP Governor Shah Farman and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan were also present on the occasion. During the meeting, a detailed presentation was given to the prime minister on the ongoing development projects across the provinces, especially in the merged tribal districts. The overall political situation and party’s matters were also discussed.
The prime minister said the political manifesto of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was to serve the masses wholeheartedly and without any discrimination. Unfortunately, he said, some people joined politics to make money rather to serve the people. “A nation is destined to doom when it loses morality and cannot distinguish between right and wrong,” he added.
Moreover, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that they would accept whatever decision the apex court takes in a presidential reference on the Senate election through an open ballot. He said this while chairing a meeting of KPK leaders including Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and others. The prime minister said that they wanted to hold Senate polls through an open ballot, however, it is the court that had to decide on the matter.
“We will accept whatever decision court takes during the proceedings,” PM Imran Khan was quoted as saying by the sources. The prime minister further directed the party members during the meeting to support and ensure the success of the Senate candidates nominated by the party.
Moreover, the sources said that the meeting also mulled over the reasons behind the defeat of the PTI candidate in Nowshera by-polls as Defence Minister Pervez Khattak briefed the meeting on the circumstances that led to the party’s defeat. Khattak said that the party would challenge the Nowshera by-polls result in the courts.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said elements who want to “hijack” the forthcoming Senate elections were a stain on the fabric of democracy.
Imran and his adviser on Parliamentary Affairs Barrister Babar Awan held a telephonic conversation during which parliamentary sessions and the Senate elections were discussed. “Open voting [during Senate election] is the only way to stop the culture of horsetrading,” Imran asserted. The two also discussed the arrest of Sindh Assembly Opposition Leader Haleem Adil Sheikh. Last week, Karachi police arrested Sheikh after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ordered his expulsion from a constituency of PS-88 in Malir, where by-polls for a Sindh Assembly seat was taking place.
On Friday, an administrative judge of the antiterrorism courts sent him to prison on remand till February 25. Expressing his concerns on Sheikh’s arrest, Babar claimed he was subjected to custodial torture, inhuman and degrading treatment. Also, Prime Minister Imran Khan will leave for a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka on Tuesday (today). This will be Khan’s first visit to Sri Lanka after assuming the office of prime minister in August 2018. He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including members of the cabinet.
The premier is visiting the country on the invitation of his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa. During the visit, Khan will hold talks with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Rajapaksa, and Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, officials familiar with the situation said.
Bilateral talks would cover issues of trade and investment, health and education, agriculture and science and technology, defence and security, and culture and tourism. Key regional and international issues would also be discussed, a Foreign Office (FO) statement said.
“During the visit, the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Associa-tion will be announced to further promote parliamentary exchanges between the two countries,” the statement added. Khan will also participate in a joint “Trade and Investment Conference”. As Sri Lanka prepares to welcome Khan, several members of the country’s Muslim minority expressed hope for him to take up their concerns during talks with government officials. Muslims make up nearly 10 per cent of the country’s population of 22 million, which is predominantly Buddhist. The Indian Ocean island was torn for decades by a civil war between separatists from the mostly Hindu Tamil minority and the Sinhala Buddhist-dominated government.
The government stamped out the rebellion some 11 years ago.
However, in recent years, Buddhist hardliners, led by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or “Buddhist Power Force” a Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist group have stoked hostility against Muslims, saying influences from the Middle East had made Sri Lanka’s Muslims more conservative and isolated. In 2018, scores of mosques, Muslim homes and businesses were destroyed as Buddhist mobs ran amok for three days in Kandy, the central highlands district. Representatives of the nation’s Muslims said that they were banking on the “great Muslim leader” to “speak on our behalf.”
“The community wishes to welcome a great Muslim leader who is coming as his country’s prime minister for the first time. He is in a vantage position to speak on behalf of the Sri Lankan Muslims,” NM Ameen, president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, told Arab News. “Prime Minister Khan must use his visit to assist in our struggles for human rights, justice and accountability for all in Sri Lanka,” Shreen Saroor, women’s rights activist and co-founder of the Women’s Action Network, said.

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