‘Big Five’ discuss ‘meaty’ matters

Meeting attended by PM, COAS Bajwa, FM Qureshi, FS Tehmina, ISI DG Mukhtar among others


Siddeeq Sajid


Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday presided over a high level meeting at the Prime Minister’s office which was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, DG-ISI Lieutenant-General Naveed Mukhtar, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and other senior officials.

Relations with friendly countries, and security-related issues came under discussion, the PM’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Sources said that agenda was finalised of FM’s day trip to Kabul today. FM Qureshi would hold talks with his Afghan counterpart, President Ashraf Ghani, and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Sources further disclosed that relations with India, Iran, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia were also discussed.

PM Imran is leaving for his maiden foreign visit to Saudi Arabia next week where he will have extensive talks with Saudi leadership on bilateral and regional issues. Agenda of the visit was also finalised.

The PM said we want strong relations with all our neighbours but with dignity and honour; Pakistan’s interests were a priority.

Bureaucracy without ‘political’ pressure

PM Imran while addressing the civil servants in the PM office on Friday asked the top bureaucracy of the country to work on merit and assured them that the government would protect them from political interference.

The prime minister assured the civil servants as well that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would not humiliate them if they faced any inquiry or investigation.

Prime Minister Imran said, “We will provide a system that works on merit and make sure we protect our bureaucracy from political pressure. The practice of transfers on political grounds is massively disruptive,” he said.

The PM pointed out that political interference over the years degenerated the country’s bureaucracy which was considered as a pride of the country in the era of 60s.

He said we have seen all kinds of challenges and countries come out of them. Germany and Japan were destroyed by war, but they rose back up in 10 years because the nation and governments were on same page.

“When people take ownership of your country, they become the protectors of everything to do the country; an army of 200 million. We need to step outside of a colonial mindset.”

We need to believe that it is our responsibility to serve the people of Pakistan, he added.

“We are auctioning dozens of cars, helicopters. I don’t live in the PM house. The symbolism of all this is important to change our mindset. When we need to spend every rupee on the children and people of our country,” the premier remarked.

“PM said accountability is our cornerstone.”

“I spoke to chairman NAB; and I have told them whatever investigations happen, against our bureaucracy even, do not humiliate anyone in the process, do it subtly,” he said.

The PM highlighted that none of the reform programmes will be implementable without a robust bureaucracy.

“The PTI government will be taking huge risks, and mistakes may happen. But everyone makes mistakes; and we will stand with you and ensure that no wrong pressure is levied on you.”

“I am only concerned by your performance. If you work for the country, we will stand by you and support you,” the PM assured civil servants.

The prime minister said, “We don’t have money to run our country; the majority of the population is young and looking for jobs; and the loans we took, instead of creating wealth so that we could repay them, have created projects that are running losses.”

He also discussed statistics on out-of-school children, malnourished children, growing deaths women during childbirth, and infant mortality due to waterborne diseases. “I’m surprise that there hasn’t been outrage over this before.”

“We need to get out of this debt trap and we need to change ourselves and our nation,” he told the civil servants.

“I hope that you, the executive arm of this country, whatever policies we make (will help us implement them).”

“I assure you that we will protect our bureaucracy from political pressure,” he vowed. He also added that “quick postings and transfers are the most disruptive for governments”.

“The living wage is not enough for you to survive on your salaries,” he said. “I ask you to bear this difficult time, it won’t last long. Countries have cycles. No country goes straight to the top. If we fix the governance structure, there is so much potential in this country.”