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Sigh of relief as Shehbaz refuses to hike POL prices

PM says govt will continue to provide relief to masses

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday rejected a summary of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) to increase prices of petrol by Rs21 and of other petroleum products by Rs50 and said the government would continue to provide relief to the people.

Speaking at an Iftar dinner hosted for the leadership and parliamentarians of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), he said the last government suddenly announced a subsidy on petroleum products and did not allocate enough financial resources for the relief. “We cannot put more burden on people,” he said, adding that the previous government did not even give subsidies on the basic items such as flour this Ramazan.

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He said the facts regarding the petroleum products’ prices would be put before the people. He vowed that the government would continue to work for the welfare and prosperity of the people and would resolve their issues. The premier said the opposition alliance defeated Imran Khan with its round-the-clock struggle, adding the coalition of parties in government would move ahead with the consultation. The structure built by the previous government was falling like a sandcastle, he remarked.

Thanking the coalition partners for electing him as the prime minister, he said he would remain in touch with the allied parties’ parliamentarians and will solve problems of their constituencies.

He said names of cabinet members would be announced in two phases, adding the initial names for the cabinet would be announced soon, while more names of cabinet ministers would be announced in the second phase in the next few days. Shehbaz said the Prime Minister’s House would be turned into Pakistan House and officers from all the provinces would get an opportunity to serve in it. He said that he had sent to the president the summaries of the resignations of National Assembly speaker and Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister.

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Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Akhtar Mengal, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Mohsin Dawar, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ahsan Iqbal, Shah Zain Bugti and others attended the Iftar dinner.

Separately, Shehbaz Sharif told journalists in a meeting that former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan sold Toshakhana (gift depository) gifts worth Rs140 million in Dubai. In response to a question about the petition regarding the details of Toshakhana that had been filed in the Islamabad High court, Shehbaz Sharif said Imran had first changed the law of the treasury and then a necklace, ring and watch were bought at a comparatively lower price from the treasury and sold in Dubai.

Earlier, Imran Khan had commented on a petition that the details could not be revealed as per the Official Secrets Act, 1923. Shehbaz said that he also received a watch once, but deposited it in the Toshakhana, adding that he “does not need to hide anything”. He also said that he had no interest in making his son (Hamza) the chief minister of Punjab. However, when Parvez Elahi was offered the post of the chief minister and he backtracked, the party nominated Hamza, he explained.

On the other hand, PTI leader Chaudhry Fawad rejected the claims made by Shehbaz Sharif and said that the new premier was engaging in mud-slinging. He claimed that Imran bought a watch from the government of Pakistan, which was received from a foreign country, and then sold it.  “What is the offence if the [then] prime minister sold the watch he bought from the government?” he asked.

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