Following the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-(PTI) Insaf’s unexpected defeat in the first phase of local government elections in its stronghold of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday directed the province’s chief minister to ensure unity among party ranks in order to win the second phase of the polls next month.
Furthermore, due to the country’s serious natural gas shortage, the prime minister urged the relevant agencies to expedite the granting of licences for domestic gas exploration in order to satisfy the rising demand, particularly during the winter.
He promised to honour the country’s diamond jubilee in a proper manner.
KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan met with Prime Minister to discuss the impending second phase of local government elections in the province, as well as the PTI’s organisational structure in the province.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Imran Khan has asked the chief minister to take all necessary steps to guarantee party unity and discipline ahead of the LG polls’ next phase.
PM Khan was briefed on the status of several development projects in the province, and the PM directed that all projects be completed on time so that people could receive immediate relief and conveniences.
Following the PTI’s failure in the first round of LG elections, the prime minister overhauled the party’s organisational structure and grilled the KP chief minister over the defeat. He attributed the setback to “poor candidate selection,” pointing out that in some constituencies, three PTI candidates were vying for one seat.
After some of the PTI candidates filed lawsuits against one other, their differences were established. “The prime minister asked the KP CM to ensure unity among party ranks before the second phase of the LG polls, which is slated for Jan 16, 2022, because of their [party candidates’] disputes,” sources told Dawn.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced provisional results for 45 of 63 tehsils in 17 districts of KP where local body elections were held on December 19, according to sources.
The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) was leading with 20 seats, according to provisional results as well as unconfirmed and unverified results from 53 tehsils. The PTI came in second with 13 seats, independent candidates won in ten tehsils, and the Awami National Party (ANP) has won in six tehsils thus far. Three seats have been claimed by the PML-N, two by Jamaat-i-Islami, and one each by the PPP and Tehreek-i-Islahat Pakistan.
The JUI-F also won mayorships in Peshawar, Kohat, and Bannu, the province capital. The ANP’s mayoral candidates in Mardan dominated the polls.
Gas exploration: At a separate discussion on natural gas consumption and supply, Prime Minister Khan directed relevant authorities to remove roadblocks in the construction of new LNG terminals and virtual pipeline projects by investors.
The demand and supply from domestic reserves, as well as the shortfall and import of LNG, were discussed during the meeting with federal ministers.
It was reported that the country’s current gas restricted demand was 4,700 million cubic feet per day, with winter demand reaching at least 6,000mmcfd. Domestic consumers received 3,300 mmcfd, which was declining year after year.
The prime minister ordered that the gas shortage be filled using LNG imports. He added that there was an approximately 1,000 mmcfd gap in winter with the current infrastructure, for which different approaches were being used.
In the short term, the existing capacity of domestic terminals is being optimised, and the process of issuing of virtual pipeline licences is being accelerated, according to the meeting. In addition, work on two new LNG ports was underway, with all bottlenecks being addressed first.
The ministries of maritime affairs and petroleum, as well as the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, have been directed to work together and include all other parties, including investors, in this process.
The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of the North-South Gas Pipeline and directed that it be completed within the agreed-upon timelines.
PM Khan stressed the need of developing the export culture at another meeting, saying that businessmen who promote the country’s exports will be honoured with civic prizes.
“We need resilient exporters,” Mr Khan said, according to the PMO, “who will be rewarded with national civil prizes based on their achievement in expanding exports.”
He also asked the Ministry of Commerce to create a platform that would respond to exporter complaints. The ministry was also told to act as a catalyst in order to promote long-term export growth. “We need to create an ecology and a culture that allows us to expand exports while reducing our reliance on imports,” he said.
Mr Khan also instructed all related departments to use technology to build robust policies and transparency.
Earlier, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood informed Mr Khan that after ten years of stagnation, exports have reached a new high this year. He emphasised that it was past time to introduce incentives to boost the export target even higher.
Pakistan’s diamond jubilee: Prime Minister Khan has asked for the country’s diamond jubilee celebrations to be held in a way that highlights the country’s particular identity, culture, and geographical position.
Mr Khan stated during a meeting to assess preparations for the diamond jubilee festivities in the coming year, “On the occasion of the country’s 75th independence anniversary, there is a need to inform the youth about the reason of Pakistan’s formation and the actual message of Allama Iqbal.” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain briefed him in detail on the preparations.
Various events and documentaries will be held to emphasise the country’s history, culture, national heroes, women who participated in the Pakistan Movement, local sports, tourism, economy, green Pakistan, and relations with friendly countries, according to the meeting.