PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said the PTI-led government is facing no threat from the opposition rallies or pressure from any side and the whole drama is being staged for Senate elections, which the government intends to hold earlier than schedule.
He said the government has approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hold the upcoming Senate elections via a “show of hands”. Speaking to reporters here, Imran Khan said elections for the Upper House would be held earlier than planned and that he had been given a detailed briefing on the matter by Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan.
“Horse trading is easier for the government in Senate elections,” he said, adding that the PTI, however, believes in transparent elections and had expelled 20 MPAs from the party.
Imran Khan said all the robbers joined hands and demanded “a 34-page NRO”when he offered to engage in dialogue. He said saying he would never bow down to them “under any circumstances”. He made it clear that no invitation for talks on the opposition rallies has been extended by the government.
“The cases against the opposition were not filed during our government (but) were registered in the past,” he said, adding that there was no threat to the PTI regime from them.
According to Geo News, the premier underlined that everyone was aware of what he was doing the day the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) held their much-anticipated rally in Lahore. “There is no pressure on me,” he said.
“The opposition has been holding large rallies,” he noted, referring to the PDM’s rallies in Peshawar, Karachi, Quetta, Lahore, Gujranwala, and Multan. “If I want, I can still hold a rally bigger than opposition’s,” the PM added.
Meanwhile, appreciating KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan for his performance in the health sector, Imran Khan formally inaugurated the state-of-the-art Peshawar Institute of Cardiology (PIC) and hoped it would carter to the needs of cardiac patients of the province as well as Afghanistan.
He said majority of the people worldwide die of cancer and cardiac diseases. The prime minister denied reports that his government was privatising the state-run hospitals in the country. However, he pledged to introduce reforms and bring them on a par with the standard at the private sector hospitals.
“I congratulate Mahmood Khan and the people of KP for having this state-of-the-art cardiac centre. I must appreciate Mahmood Khan and his government for their efforts and arranging funds in extreme difficult circumstances to complete this mega health facility,” the prime minister said.
The prime minister arrived in tight security to the PIC and inspected its different sections. He was briefed about the project and the services being launched in the first phase.
Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman, Chief Secretary Dr Kazim Niaz and the provincial police chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi accompanied the prime minister during his visit. A limited number of people were invited to the inaugural event. Medical Director of the PIC, Prof Dr Shahkar Ahmad Shah, members of the Board of Governors (BoG) including its Chairman Prof Dr Abdul Bari Khan, Dr Hameed Afridi, and others attended the ceremony.
Imran Khan said he was impressed by the cardiac centre and the quality of services to be offered to patients.
“It is so unfortunate that there is no proper facility for cardiac patients in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Unfortunately, the only cardiovascular department in the LRH was closed due to high mortality rate and the province needed a specialised cardiac centre like PIC,” the prime minister opined. He lamented that nobody bothered to think about the people and their suffering when someone falls sick in the family. “It affects the entire family and their resources when someone falls ill and they have to arrange money for the treatment,” he pointed out.
Imran Khan remarked that it was ironic that the elite go abroad for treatment and don’t think about the rest of the population. He said Mahmood Khan deserves appreciation as despite the difficult economic situation he provided free healthcare to all the people of the province and delivered them health cards.
“People often ask us where is the State of Madina. This is the great example of what this government is doing as countries with better economies couldn’t ensure free universal healthcare that KP successfully delivered,” the prime minister maintained.
He urged the PIC management to maintain standard and quality in their services, adding, he had personally observed standards go down in the government hospitals with the passage of time.
“The biggest challenge is to maintain standards at the PIC,” he said. About the strike of health workers in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) against the proposed health reforms, he rejected the impression that the government was planning to privatise the state-run hospitals.
“The only reason for introducing reforms in the institutions is to bring improvement in services and introduce a culture of accountability and transparency,” he added. Arguing that the government alone cannot build hospitals everywhere for 220 million population, Imran Khan urged the private sector to come forward and set up hospitals in remote areas. He offered them land at low prices and said they would not need to pay duty to import equipment for their hospitals.
The prime minister said private sector hospitals can benefit from the universal healthcare scheme of the provincial government if they built quality hospitals in remote parts of the province.
The PIC is a 250-bed facility for cardiology and cardiovascular services where six cath laboratories and six operation theatres would be operational this week.
Dr Hameed Afridi, member of the BoG, told The News that they had already selected some cardiologists and cardiac surgeons and others would join next month. He said they had opened the hospital for outpatient services and would use two floors at the moment. The hospital has a 26-bed ICU and a CCU also with 26 beds.
Once PIC is fully operational, it would have the capacity to do 2,500 to 3,000 cardiac surgeries every year. In the initial phase, the hospital will become operational with around 140 beds, three cath labs and three operation theatres.
It would soon be on the panel of State Life for free healthcare services under the Sehat Plus programme. The entire faculty of the hospital is foreign trained and originally from KP. So far three consultant surgeons and seven cardiologists have joined the hospital.
According to Dr Hameed Afridi, most of the consultants and cardiologists came from known hospitals in Pakistan and abroad, including Shifa International Hospital Islamabad, Aga Khan Hospital Karachi and Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. Some came from the United Kingdom and one each from the US and Canada.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan launched the first model housing scheme of KP — Jalozai Housing Scheme -which has been developed along the modern lines with all facilities.
Executed by the Pakhtunkhwa Housing Authority, the scheme is spread over 8,905 kanal of land and has a total of 8,634 plots. The prime minister reached Nowshera on a short visit through helicopter to perform the launching ceremony in the Jalozai area of the district. He was accompanied by CM Mahmood Khan and Governor Shah Farman. Federal Minister for Defence Pervaiz Khattak, KP Housing Minister Amjad Ali Khan, Chief Secretary Kazim Niaz and other government officials were present at Jalozai to welcome Imran Khan.
The prime minister cut a tape to formally launch the scheme. He greeted the KP government for completing development work there within the stipulated time.
Imran Khan directed the officials to disburse loans on easy instalments to the poor and homeless people for the construction of low-cost housing units. He hoped the facility would strengthen the housing industry and create livelihood opportunities. He said housing schemes should not be developed on agricultural lands, adding barren or uninhabited lands should be used for the purpose.
Earlier, Additional Chief Secretary Shakil Qadir gave a detailed presentation to the prime minister on the Jalozai Housing Scheme. He said a total of 8,905 kanal of land had been acquired for the scheme where 8,634 plots have been developed and handed to the owners. The official said the development work on the scheme had been completed.
“He said the 76km road network has been finalized. Land has been allocated for the construction of 19 mosques and the construction work on these places of worship is in progress,” he added.
The official said the work on two large and 29 small parks was nearing completion while one hospital, a degree college, seven water tanks reach having the capacity to store 100,000 gallons of water have been constructed.
The additional chief secretary said charges had been deposited for supplying electricity and gas, adding the practical work on ensuring the supplies of these utilities would be launched soon.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan said that on December 16, six years ago, the nation was shocked and grieved by the extreme act of terrorism against children and teachers of Army Public School (APS).
In a tweet, the prime minister said, “Today, six years ago, the nation was shocked and grieved by the extreme act of terrorism against children & teachers of APS; & the nation came together with a resolve to take on those responsible.” He wrote, “We remain determined & are moving forward in fulfilling this commitment to the nation.”