Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a federal cabinet meeting on Tuesday, claimed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government’s reforms would prove the party was superior to its political opponents.
In a joint press conference with Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan said the cabinet meeting had observed positive economic indicators as a result of its policies. She claimed the reforms were proving difficult to implement fully as the “beneficiaries of the [prevailing] rot” continued to pose hurdles. However, she said, the P.M. had assured the cabinet that no one would be permitted to halt Pakistan’s development and progress.
The prime minister also dismissed the ongoing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF) dharna as “ineffective,” saying its timing was inappropriate and it was clear the common man had stayed away from it.
According to Awan, Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar told the cabinet that current economic indicators proved the country’s economy was moving toward stability. She said he had informed the cabinet that the fiscal deficit had decreased by 50 percent and foreign investment was on the rise. She also pointed to the Pakistan Stock Exchange gaining 1,500 points over the past three days, proving the business community was not affected by the ongoing sit-in of opposition forces in Islamabad.
The de facto information minister said the prime minister, during the meeting, had given three months to relevant departments and ministries to achieve their targets of providing relief to the common man and reducing inflation.
The federal cabinet meeting also approved a national electric vehicles policy, setting a target to convert 30 percent of four- and tri-wheelers in the country into electric vehicles. Elaborating on the policy, climate change adviser Amin said local car manufacturers were ready to implement it, saying they had been waiting for the cabinet’s to roll out electric vehicles into the market.
“In developed countries, the ratio of emissions of greenhouse gases from vehicles in total volume of environmental pollution is 20 percent but in Pakistan it is 40 percent. Electric cars, trucks, vans and even tri-wheeler rickshaws can reduce the pollution and smog,” he said, adding that running electric vehicles was cheaper than fossil fuel-based vehicles. He hopes increase in electric vehicles would help the government cut its annual oil import bill.
Aslam said over 3,000 CNG stations, which had been shuttered due to gas shortage, could be converted into charging stations for the new vehicles. “We are negotiating with some oil companies over this,” he said.
The cabinet, per Awan, also approved P.M. Khan’s decision to waive the $20 entry fee for Sikh pilgrims availing the Kartarpur Corridor at its inauguration and visa- and passport-free entry to Indian pilgrims. The government expects over 15,000 pilgrims to travel to Pakistan at the inauguration, Awan added.
To a question, Awan said P.M. Khan’s promise to build a university in the Prime Minister’s House had not been forgotten and it would be established in adjacent empty plots.