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Panamagate case: Ruling party seeks refuge from SC heat in populist projects

ISLAMABAD: In a bid to counter any ‘unfavourable’ situation arising from the Panamagate case being heard in the Supreme Court, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is fast-tracking a two-year development plan it launched in July this year.

According to sources, the federal government has prioritised all projects which fall under the plan, directing that they be executed on a ‘war footing’ — irrespective of economic constraints.

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Only a handful of the more than 100 projects had been prioritised earlier, the sources said, adding that the Supreme Court’s strong stance on the Panama leaks has compelled the ruling party to disregard technical and legal hitches, and execute them all in the shortest possible time.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children to prove the legality of their offshore companies by November 15.

“There is absolute panic” in the ruling camp after Monday’s top court proceedings, an insider told The Express Tribune. “The focus is now on populist steps to win public sympathy and support in case of any unfavourable outcome.”

Just a few hours after Monday’s proceedings, the prime minister announced load-shedding across the country would be cut down by half. The next day, the PML-N government in Punjab lifted a ban on jobs in the province and announced a large-scale recruitment drive in different departments.

The federal government is now reportedly considering to drastically reduce gas load-shedding hours in the winter. Only a few weeks ago, reports predicted thee ‘worst’ gas outages this winter.

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Key projects that have been now been put on priority include the Sangla Hill interchange, which the premier inaugurated on Friday.

Sources said a big question mark looms over how the federal and Punjab governments will execute these projects amid serious funding issues. “How funds will be arranged in one fiscal year for a two-year plan is beyond comprehension,” a federal government functionary said.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister’s Political Coordinator Zar Gul Khan termed the populist decisions a desperate attempt to gain public sympathy. “The PML-N is feeling the heat of Supreme Court proceedings. Executing projects in a haphazard manner shows its sheer desperation,” he said.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, however, denied that the populist measures were linked to the Panamagate case. The minister added that it is wrong to assume there is a shortage of funds.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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