Shehbaz Sharif addresses lawyers’ convention n Says country was on verge of economic default when coalition govt formed n Visits Balochistan’s Sohbatpur n Directs to expedite process for restoration of basic infrastructure.

ISLAMABAD/SOHBATPUR    -   Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday urged the nation, particularly the influential and affluent class to play their due role to change the nation’s fate through firm resolve and solid actions.

“Where does Pakistan stand today despite passage of 75 years, this is a pinching question… We are moving in a circle all the time… This is now or never,” the prime minister said addressing the lawyers’ convention here.

He said the nation wanted to know as why the Quaid’s dreams remained fulfilled as millions of the people were faced with poverty. He said unfortunately, even the smaller nations as well as the neighboring countries had achieved immense progress leaving Pakistan behind.

Referring to the massive destruction caused by the floods, the prime minister said hundreds of thousands of the flood-stricken people were about to brave the upcoming harsh cold winters and 0.6 million pregnant women were also compelled to stay at tents.

Shehbaz Sharif said the country was faced with climate-induced destruction. He told the lawyers community that as the coalition government was formed, the country was at verge of the economic default.

However, owing to its untiring efforts, the government had averted the economic default and controlled the economic instability, though the inflation was “at its peak.”

He told the gathering that an agreement with the IMF was signed but violated in the past risking the whole programme. Shehbaz Sharif said the government was strategising to cope with the swelling needs of the gas, considering the upcoming winter season.

He said the previous government failed to sign a gas purchase agreement when it was available at 3 cents per MMBTU comparing current 40 cents per MMBTU. He said the flood water was still causing destruction in Balochistan, leading to the collapse of houses and washing away of crops.

He said even the availability of clean drinking water was a challenge for the flood-affected people.

He said the country was rich with immense resources like Sendak and Reko Diq with capable human resource like farmers, engineers and doctors.

“If we make a resolve, Pakistan will emerge a great country. It will not come through speeches, rather through will and action,” the prime minister remarked.

Earlier, he distributed allotment letters among the senior lawyers for residential plots in the housing project and carried out balloting of plots among the federal government employees.

The prime minister said that those who had got the allotment letters for their residential plots should never forget the flood-stricken people who had lost their dear ones as well as the houses.

He said the housing project for the lawyers’ community had been facing a delay; however the incumbent government would ensure its early completion. He said the government would extend maximum support for development of the housing project.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Housing Minister Maulana Abdul Wasay and President of Supreme Court Bar Association Ahsan Bhoon also addressed the Convention.

‘Restoration of basic infrastructure;

Also, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif said that federal and provincial governments in collaboration with Pakistan Army are working to provide relief to people in flood-affected areas across the country.

Talking to media persons during a visit to rains and flood-affected district of Sohbatpur in Balochistan on Wednesday, he said all-out efforts are being made to help flood-affected people. The prime minister said electricity bills of August and September of flood-affected people have been condoned.

He said 24 billion rupees cash assistance has so far been disbursed through Benazir Income Support Programme among the flood-affected families. Shehbaz Sharif said floods have damaged the power transmission system, roads infrastructure and internet.

Earlier, during the briefing, the prime minister directed to expedite process for drainage of water in flood-affected areas besides restoration of basic infrastructure.

Chairman HBL meets PM 

Chairman Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and Director of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development Mr Sultan Ali Allana, called on Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad. Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhamad Asif was also present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister conveyed his respects to His Highness the Aga Khan and expressed his gratitude for the generous contribution for the flood relief efforts in Pakistan.

Areas of mutual interest including economic situation in the country and areas of development were discussed during the meeting. The Prime Minister appreciated the role of HBL and other Aga Khan Development Network institutions in Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prince Raheem Aga Khan telephonically called Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif few days and announced donation of 10 million US dollars for the flood affectees of Pakistan.