'In bid to provide relief to Palestine, Pakistan will send emergency medical assistance'

‘In bid to provide relief to Palestine, Pakistan will send emergency medical assistance’

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference in Islamabad after a meeting of the federal cabinet in May 18, 2021. — YouTube screengrab

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will send coronavirus and medical emergency relief assistance to Palestine on humanitarian grounds to mitigate the suffering there, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said Tuesday.

The decision to this effect was taken in the federal cabinet meeting today, with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, he said while addressing a press conference.

Fawad said the cabinet thoroughly discussed the prevailing situation in Palestine and expressed deep concern and resentment over the plight of Palestinians.

He said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had gone to Turkey, where he held a meeting with his Turkish counterpart on the Palestine issue.

Foreign ministers of different Islamic countries including Pakistan, Turkey, Sudan, and Palestine will leave for New York in a group form to attend the special session of the United Nations General Assembly on Palestine, he said.

Fawad said there was extreme resentment in Muslim countries against Israeli actions due to the sufferings of Palestinian people, adding PM Imran Khan — from day one — provided a leadership role to the ummah on the issue of Palestine.

Pakistan was the first country that took a strong, clear, and unflinching stance on Palestine, he said.

He pointed out that parameters of Pakistan’s policy on Palestine had been set by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, adding “today PM Imran Khan is the custodian of that policy.”

The minister added that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had said that whatever he had been thinking for Palestine in his heart and mind, it was exactly translated by PM Imran Khan in words. “It reflects that Imran Khan is playing a leading role for the betterment of the Ummah.”

The information minister said the cabinet was also briefed on the issue of the Rawalpindi Ring Road project based on reports gathered from the Punjab government.

He said although the project had remained under discussion for the last several years, it was originally conceived in 2017 to provide a separate passage to the heavy traffic that entered or passed through the Rawalpindi city. In 2018, he said, the initial alignment of the road was approved.

Giving the background of the issue, he said PM Imran Khan had received an anonymous message by someone, who claimed to be an engineer associated with the Ring Road project, that the road’s alignment had been changed especially at the Sanjgani point, which had narrowed the passage making it dangerous for vehicular movement.

Upon which, he said, the prime minister ordered an initial inquiry. When questioned the authorities concerned informed him (PM) that ‘no alignment had been changed’.

The PM, he said, had decided to hold an independent investigation into the matter and the initial probe confirmed that not only the road alignment had been changed, but a 29-kilometre additional stretch also included in the project towards Attock to get the housing societies in the loop.

As a result of the investigation, Fawad said, billions of rupees’ embezzlement was avoided as under the new alignment additional land amounting to Rs 23 billion had to be acquired including a major portion in Attock.

“Currently, Rs 2.3 billion has been paid for the land acquisition, but the amount will be taken back.”

“According to the initial report, the alignment has been changed to give benefit to some individuals, while the addition of a 29-kilometre stretch was made to benefit to some housing societies directly,” he said while clarifying that there was no mention of Special Assistant to the PM Zulfikar Bukhari and Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan in the inquiry report.

He regretted that on social media, the names of the ministers were quoted for their involvement in the scam without any proof.

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