‘Not sending an army to occupy Sindh islands’, says Asad Umar | The Express Tribune



Commenting on the controversy revolving around the Pakistan Islands Development Authority Ordinance, Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar has said that the federal government was sending an “army to occupy these islands” in Sindh.

The ordinance, promulgated by the Centre, has met with increasing criticism from several corners since it first came into public knowledge. It has invited the ire of other political parties, nationalists, writers and civil society activists in Sindh and several protests and rallies have been held calling for its revocation.

On Wednesday, the Sindh Assembly adopted a resolution to condemn the ordinance, demanding of the federal government for its withdrawal.

Speaking to the media in Hyderabad on Saturday, Asad Umar said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already clarified that the issue would be resolved with consensus.

“We aren’t sending an army to occupy these islands. The PPP’s (previous) federal government had itself tried to initiate similar projects on these islands,” he recalled.

Asad Umar questioned why the provincial government in July 2020 issued NOC for the two islands to the Centre if they were opposed to the federal initiative. ”I think only politics is being done on the islands [issue],” he observed.

The minister contended that presently Pakistan, particularly Sindh, needed investment and employment which would be provided by the island projects.

Umar said that the Hyderabad package would be worked out after the Karachi package’s development works would be streamlined.

Justice Isa verdict

When asked about the court’s judgment concerning Justice Qazi Faez Isa, he said the full bench itself came to the conclusion that there were relevant questions about the properties which needed to be answered.

“It means the court agreed with the contention that the questions which arose needed answers,” he underscored.

The minister said the former attorney general for Pakistan, Anwar Masood Khan was a sophisticated person but might be possible that some of his remarks had offended the court.

The top court on Friday declared that the presidential reference filed against the Supreme Court judge was “tainted with mala fide in law”, while making strong comments against the president, the federal minister for law and the former attorney general for Pakistan (AGP).

PDM power show in Karachi

Commenting on the PDM’s power show in Karachi on October 18, Umar said PTI and MQM-P could have hold a far larger power show in Karachi if the threat of the spread of Covid-19 pandemic did not exist.

“We do not feel any pressure from PDM’s power show,” he said, adding that PTI and MQM-P had 20 seats of the National Assembly in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Covid-19 strategy

He said the Covid-19 policy of Pakistan had been appreciated by the global community and advised the people to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) because the virus was still present.

The minister noted that the spread of the virus would affect both the human health and livelihood.

Population census

When questioned about the controversy concerning the population census 2017, he told that the federal government had formed a cabinet committee, comprising representatives from all provinces, to resolve the issue.

“If the census increases the Karachi population, Sindh’s share in the NFC and the federal resources will also increase.

“My question is why we haven’t heard the voice of the Sindh chief minister or the provincial government on this issue. This question should be asked from them,” he said.

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