Sunday Jun 28, 2020
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan's dinner on Sunday, hosted in honour of members of the government coalition, was a lively affair with a broad array of topics discussed, including the PIA plane crash and the performance of ministers.
“If I had not brought to light the findings of the PIA plane crash, the blood of so many innocent victims would have been on conscience,” said the premier, according to sources.
The premier said that there was a lot of pressure in that regard but he had fulfilled his duty in bringing the facts forward.
“If I wanted, I could have hidden many things, but I didn’t,” he said.
The premier also hinted at an inquiry into the “fake licenses” and dubious credentials that 262 pilots are suspected of having, said the sources.
PM Imran expressed great regret over the state of affairs of the PIA and Steel Mills owing to policies by the past governments.
The premier also went around to each table and listened to everyone’s grievances, reports said.
The prime minister spoke to Fawad Chaudhry in a cordial atmosphere, sources said, adding that he congratulated him for his achievement of locally manufactured ventilators.
The premier also spoke in praise of production minister Hammad Azhar at one table and expressed his desire to see other young MNAs bring forth their hidden talents like Azhar had, said the sources.
The sources also said he praised Amjad Niazi for running his parliamentary affairs admirably.
The premier had dinner together with the heads of all coalition parties. It was reported that Asad Qaiser and Sadiq Sanjrani were also in attendance.
During discussions, the premier also reportedly called the PML-N “the chief of all mafia groups”. He said the party had come into power for the sole reason of extending its support to the "mafias".
According to reports, the premier even recommended a film that could prove insightful in understanding money laundering.
The premier remarked at one point that “if he makes a deal with nine individuals he can spend five years in peace” (but that he had avowed not to).
He said that if he had wanted to, he could have lived luxuriously in the Prime Minister House but chose not to. “I pay for all my house expenditures out of my own pocket,” he added.
According to a statement earlier in the day by Shahbaz Gill, the premier's special assistant on political communication, added that guests would be treated to "qorma [savoury meat dish], matar chawal [rice with peas], and naan [bread]". He stressed that PM Imran Khan would personally bear the expenses of the dinner, as opposed to what had been done in the past.
Gill said JWP leader Shahzain Bugti had confirmed his attendance at the premier's dinner.
It is pertinent to mention here that Bugti, as well as member of the National Assembly Aslam Bhutani, had earlier this week warned the PTI government of breaking alliance if the promises made to them were not fulfilled within seven days.
Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad excused himself from the dinner, citing his poor health. The AML-leader had tested positive for the deadly coronavirus earlier this month and was even admitted to the hospital as per a June 14 report.
"I'm not feeling well, I wish to rest," Rashid said.
Earlier, The News had reported that BNP-M, the former coalition party led by Akhtar Mengal, had refused to attend the prime minister's dinner for the government's MPs and lawmakers from allied parties.
The PM Office had invited BNP-P chief Akhtar Mengal and party leader Jahanzeb Jamaldini for the dinner; however, the party maintained that since it was no longer a part of the government, there was no sense in attending the event.
It is worthy to note that Mengal had announced on June 17 that his party was parting ways with the PTI-led government after remaining part of the coalition for nearly two years.
Earlier in the day, it was also reported that leaders of the BAP and MQM-P were set to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan ahead of the dinner party.
According to sources, a BAP delegation was set to meet the prime minister at 6pm. Defence Production Minister Zubaida Jalal, as well as Mir Khalid Magsi and Sardar Israr Tareen, would also be part of the meeting.
The approval of Budget 2020-21 and Balochistan's issues, among other topics, were expected to be brought up in the meeting. The BAP were also expected to attend the dinner later at night.
In addition, a delegation of the MQM-P was also scheduled to meet PM Imran prior to the dinner, which the coalition party said it would attend, according to sources.
During the meeting, developmental projects in Karachi, the MQM-P's reservations and demands, and other important matters were to be discussed.
Separately, the PML-Q's Chaudhry brothers — Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and his cousin, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi — have also invited the leaders of the coalition parties for dinner today, sources told Geo News.
The Chaudhry brothers had invited the coalition leaders before the Prime Minister's dinner, the sources said, adding that multiple politicians of the allied parties had confirmed their attendance.
The Chaudhry brothers have invited leaders of the MQM-P, BAP, and GDA, as well as the independent politicians but not the ruling PTI's leaders, the sources added.