- Fawad Chaudhry says civilian govt enjoys policy making privilege
- Claims cancellation of blasphemous caricatures contest in Netherlands diplomatic success for Pakistan
- Says Sharif family will be billed Rs20.5m for misusing official aircraft during Nawaz’s tenure as PM
ISLAMABAD: Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday said that state policies are devised with the input of all institutions, adding that army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had assured Prime Minister Imran Khan that the army, like all other institutions, will work under the government.
“Gen Bajwa had also made it clear that the army was bound to implement all policies devised by the government,” the information minister said while briefing reporters about Thursday’s visit of Prime Minister Khan to the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ).
The minister further said that Prime Minister Khan had said that since the country had been facing enormous challenges which could not be handled by a single person, all institutions would have to devise a joint strategy going forward.
The meeting at the army headquarters also discussed regional peace and stability as well as Islamabad’s foreign relations with regional countries. “Obviously, Kashmir was also discussed during the meeting,” Chaudhry said.
‘CANCELLATION OF DUTCH CONTEST PTI GOVT’S VICTORY’:
Terming the cancellation of an anti-Islam contest involving blasphemous caricatures in the premises of the Dutch parliament as an “achievement” for the new Pakistani government, Fawad Chaudhry said that the government still believes that a strategy needs to be devised on an international level against any such attempt in the future.
He also said that while a small group of people in the west may try to provoke Muslims, the majority could not be held responsible for the acts of that small group.
The minister recalled that the Dutch government had not been in favour of the contest and petitions had also been filed in the United Kingdom against blasphemy. “After the prime minister’s speech, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted the government of Holland,” he said, adding that Qureshi had told the Dutch that the global community will hold their government responsible if the contest was held.
Talking on foreign affairs, the information minister added that there is consensus in Pakistan over various issues.
“Islamabad wants peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan also wants peace with India.
“We are two nuclear powers; we don’t want war. We can either fight with each other or sign a treaty to fight jointly against poverty. Therefore, normalisation of relations with India is an important agenda,” he said.
Chaudhry also said that Islamabad enjoys close relations with Iran, recalling that her foreign minister was on visit to Pakistan.
“Similarly,” he said, “Saudi Arabia has been and will be a strategic partner for Pakistan.”
“China has great economic interest in Pakistan. Our agreement with China is an expression of the socio-economic relations between the two countries. It is not a geo-strategic agreement, but a geopolitical and geo-economic agreement,” he said while talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
He added that the government not only wants to complete, but further enhance the project. Giving a breakdown of CPEC projects, he said that projects worth $22 billion are associated with the energy sector, $6bn with infrastructure, while projects worth $42bn are yet to be realised.
“It is important to maintain a close economic relationship with China, but that does not mean that we will ruin our relations with the United States or we will not keep a relationship with Russia,” he said.
‘SHARIF FAMILY TO BE BILLED RS20.5M’:
Chaudhry, having declared the travel expenses of former prime minister Nawaz Sharifs’ children to be in the billions, announced that a notification to recover the amount would be sent to Hassan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz.
The minister said that Nawaz and his family’s travel expenses ran in the billions. However, since Nawaz himself had prime ministerial privileges, the matter of his own expenses will be dealt with later, he added.
The information minister alleged that Hasan, Hussain and Maryam Nawaz had misused state funds and travelled illegally in two private planes and a helicopter.
The use of two private jets, namely the G4 and G450, cost the state to the tune of Rs17.15 million. These jets were used by the ousted prime minister’s children in his absence and for no state-related affairs, to travel in between their Jati Umra residence, Lahore and other locations.
Chaudhry said that the use of the helicopter has been calculated separately, adding that Hamza Shehbaz and others misused the Punjab government copter. The costs incurred by Nawaz’s children over the use of the copter were found to be Rs6.23 million.
He revealed that details of these illegal expenditures were recovered from a log book and that the total bill amounts to around Rs25 million which will be sent to Nawaz Sharif for recovery, and that a notification of the same will be sent to his children.