| Shehbaz Sharif says Imran Niazi making naked threats against country | Calls for enhancing Pak-Turk cooperation in health sector | Govt prioritising promotion of foreign investment: PM

ANKARA/ISLAMABAD   -  Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Thursday lashed out at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan over his controversial remarks in the latest TV interview.

“While I am in Turkey inking agreements, Imran Niazi is making naked threats against the country. If at all any proof was needed that Niazi is unfit for public office, his latest interview suffices. Do your politics but don’t dare to cross limits & talk about division of Pakistan,” the prime minister tweeted on Thursday.

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan Niazi in an interview had said that the country could descend into civil war and divide if the general elections were not announced.

PM Sharif mentioned that as he was making accords with Turkey aimed at bringing prosperity to Pakistan, the PTI chief was issuing threats against Pakistan. The prime minister said the interviews and statements of Imran Khan exposed that he was not suitable for public office.

Also, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Thursday emphasised that Pakistan and Turkey should continue to address health and economic challenges, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and step up cooperation in vaccine development. The prime minister, in a meeting with Turkish Health Minister Dr Fahrettin Koca who called on him during his three-day official visit here, congratulated over the commendable handling of COVID-19 by Turkey.

During the meeting, the prime minister stressed the importance of enhancing bilateral cooperation in the health sector. He appreciated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for transforming the health system in Turkey in the last two decades.

He recalled several joint initiatives undertaken by the Turkish government in Pakistan in the health sector, especially in health services, pharmaceuticals, digital health and training and capacity building of medical professionals.

Shehbaz Sharif greatly admired Turkish generosity, witnessed during the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods in Pakistan. He particularly appreciated the establishment of Recep Tayyip Erdogan Hospital in Muzaffargarh, following the massive floods in Pakistan.

He advised the Turkish-Pakistan Joint Working Group (JWG) on Health to undertake in-depth discussions on multiple aspects of bilateral health cooperation.

The prime minister underscored the importance of follow-up on various initiatives including collaboration in the establishment of pathology labs, enhanced functioning of Pakistan Kidney Liver Institute (PKLI), and automobile ambulances.

The Turkish health minister highlighted the potential for enhanced collaboration in various aspects of the health field, such as manufacturing of medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, health tourism and quality control. He indicated that a team of Turkish Health Ministry would visit Pakistan in the near future.

The health minister also informed that a “Pak-Medica Expo and Business Forum” would be held in Pakistan in October this year.

During the meeting, it was agreed, that the two sides will remain engaged on agreed areas of cooperation through the Joint Working Group on Health.

‘Promotion of foreign investment’

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said promoting foreign investment in Pakistan was one of the top priorities of his government.

PM Sharif, who is on a three-day visit to Turkey, stated this in a meeting with a delegation of a Turkish company Sutas Group headed by its Board President Muharrem Yilmaz.

The prime minister said the government was removing the hurdles faced by investors during the last four years.

He said the government was ensuring employment opportunities and setting up industries in the country.

The delegation of Sutas Group expressed deep interest in investing in the dairy sector in Pakistan.

The prime minister issued directives to the concerned Pakistani authorities to extend cooperation to the Sutas Group.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday visited The Nation’s Library in the Turkish capital and took keen interest in the largest collection of books in the country.

The prime minister expressed profound appreciation for the exclusive section set up for Pakistani books at the library. He also took a round of the area dedicated to children interested in book-reading. Set up by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the library serves as inspiration from the great Seljuk Empire, Ottoman, and contemporary architecture.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz Thursday came down hard on former prime minister Imran Khan for criticizing the Pakistan Army and for his statement regarding disintegration of Pakistan.

The PML-N leader said that Imran’s criticism against army was for his own sake unlike the PML-N’s criticism. She explained said that her party also criticized the army in past but it was positive criticism because the PML-N wanted them to play their constitutionally-mandated role.

Maryam said this while talking to media outside the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after hearing of her appeal in the Avenfield reference. She asserted that Imran is attacking the army because it was abiding by the Constitution.

Commenting on Imran’s statement that the establishment should make the “right decisions” to prevent Pakistan from destruction, the PML-N vice president asked that what are the right decisions in your opinion? She asked that is it the decision to shut down the RTS system to help you win the election, or remain silent on your catastrophic economic policies, or help you take revenge on your political rivals.

Maryam said that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was a “great general” when he was supporting him during the PTI government, but now he was being criticized by the PTI chief.

The PML-N leader said that Imran was desperate for power and he wanted to take revenge on the “state” for his failures in politics. She also took the former premier to the task for saying that Pakistan could “split into three parts”, saying that nothing will happen to Pakistan but the party of the former premier itself would be split into 300 parts.

She further said that Imran was the first politician who had talked about the division of the country. She added that your logic is that when you are in power then ‘long live Pakistan’ but when you are thrown out of power then Pakistan was on the verge of breaking into three parts.

The PML-N leader said the nation would stop Imran if he tried to drag the military into politics, and Imran will not be allowed to put the sacrifices of the law enforcement agencies on the altar of his politics.

She said that the PTI chief had not yet been touched despite his actions after the ouster, as he was still the “blue-eyed” politician. She added that Imran called off the long march and took refuge in Peshawar because he was “afraid” of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.

In reply to a question, the PML-N vice president said that a number of PTI stalwarts were in contact with the PML-N government as they wanted to quit the former ruling party over the issue of resignations from the National Assembly.

Maryam claimed that the PTI leaders were unhappy because they believed Imran’s economic policies and the foreign conspiracy narrative have considerably damaged the political stature of the party.

In response to a question about the NAB chief, she said he was used as a “puppet” by Imran and now he wanted a safe exit. She added a new NAB chief would be someone who would make decisions “on cases, not faces”.

She also added that NAB should investigate allegations against Imran’s close friend Farah Khan.

Earlier, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected the NAB plea to adjourn the hearing. in the appeals of Maryam Nawaz and her husband Capt. (Retd) Muhammad Safdar in the Avenfield Property reference.

Maryam along with her legal team appeared before a two-member bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhter Kayani while NAB Special Prosecutor Usman Cheema and Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi.

At the outset of the hearing, NAB prosecutor requested to court to adjourn the hearing however, Maryam’s counsel Irfan Qadir Advocate opposed the same.

During the hearing, Justice Aamer Farooq remarked that an accused is a favourite child of a court during the trial. Then, the defense lawyer Amjad Perviaz presented his arguments in the case.

Later, the court deferred the hearing in this case till June 9 for further proceedings in this regard.