Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said the government was busy rehabilitating flood victims and did not have time for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s “accusations and misunderstandings”.
A day ago, the PTI chief had asked the prime minister on Twitter if he was responsible for a string of recent alleged actions against the PTI, including silencing it on the media, registering cases against pro-PTI journalists, “blacking it out” on social media or stopping the telecast of the party’s flood donation telethon. Replying directly to Imran, Shehbaz said, “Our government is currently busy with the rehabilitation of the flood victims, so there is no time for your accusations and misunderstandings.”
He expressed hope that the PTI chief would give an account of “every single penny” raised in the telethon as well as the donations gathered during the 2010 floods as “I and my colleagues have always given”. Regarding Imran’s allegations of suppressive actions, Shehbaz said such methods and restrictions were the “PTI’s tactics and not ours”. “We are only following the path of the law and the constitution,” he added.
Meanwhile, the premier urged the members of cabinet to come forward to help address the miseries of flood-hit people and enhance the relief and rehabilitation efforts. Presiding over the federal cabinet meeting, the prime minister in his televised remarks urged the ministers to put more focus on helping the poor flood-stricken at this critical time, besides fulfilling their official duties. “In this digital world, you can even do your official work through Zoom. But you also have to help those [flood-affected] people as well,” he remarked.
The prime minister, while acknowledging the efforts of those cabinet members who are active in flood relief activities, said those not active in such efforts should also come forward and help the affected people. He hoped that water in the flood-affected areas would recede in two to three months and people would be rehabilitated. Shehbaz said that flood-stricken people were angry over those politicians who were busy in holding rallies despite the catastrophic calamity in the country, adding that masses would hold them accountable at the right time.
He appreciated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for visiting Pakistan at the critical time as well as the UN flash appeal of $160 million to help the flood-affected people. He said that the UN Secretary General, who also visited the flood-hit during his visit, urged the international community to take practical steps to help Pakistan to mitigate the sufferings of the victims as well as to reduce the negative effects of climate change.
Meanwhile, the prime minister has approved the appointment of eight more special assistants in the federal cabinet. They include Nawabzada Iftikhar Ahmed Khan Babar, Mehar Irshad Ahmed Khan, Raza Rabbani Khar, Mahesh Kumar Malani, Faisal Kareem Kundi, Sardar Saleem Haider, Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi and Muhammad Ali Shah Bacha.
The prime minister already has 17 special assistants. With the latest appointments, the number of special assistants has risen to 25 in the 70-member cabinet, including 34 federal ministers, seven ministers of state and four advisors.