KALAYA   -    A day after a major reshuffle in federal cabinet, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday hinted at more changes in his cabinet, and he told Punjab and KP chief ministers to put their respective teams under the scanner.

Addressing a rally here in erstwhile Orakzai Agency, he warned the ministers of being replaced if they failed to perform. “I want to tell my ministers that it they do not perform for my country, I will change them,” Khan said.

“A good captain keeps a constant eye on his team. A good captain has to win the match. Sometimes, he has to change the batting order... Sometimes, he has to replace a player with a new one. The captain has the only target of making the team win,” he said. The cabinet reshuffle came at a time of growing pressure with the rupee losing 30 percent of its value since the start of 2018, stirring sharp inflation. It also came after Balochistan saw an upsurge in terrorism recently. The prime minister arrived here from Peshawar where he visited Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. He was accompanied by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Governor Shah Farman, parliamentarians and party leaders.

Khan said being the prime minister he had the only objective of uplifting his nation as he was answerable to Allah. “For this I have changed the batting order in my team and made a couple of changes too. I will do it in future as well. I want to tell all the ministers that anyone being of no use for my country will be replaced with the one who is beneficial,” he warned.

The prime minister asked KP chief minister to keep an eye on his team. The rulers would be held accountable by Allah Almighty for the sufferings of the poor people for not affording their children’s education, medical treatment in government hospitals and sudden increase in prices of the medicine.

 War ravages and uplift of Fata

Referring to the destruction caused by the war against terrorism and deprivation faced by the people of tribal region, the premier said he was the only politician who had been opposing the military operation in the region on behest of America.

Wearing a tribal turban, Imran Khan said unfortunately the then ruler was naïve to the nature, traditions and history of the tribal people. What actually happened to the tribal areas (during war against terrorism) was not fully known to those living outside the region, he remarked. He added that no Pakistani prime minister ever visited the tribal areas so frequently as him since he knew the area better than all.

Mentioning the losses to the houses, cattle and businesses faced by the people in Orakzai area, the prime minister said the government would not ignore their sacrifices and compensate them.

“The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) says the right things and I have been saying the same things for the last 15 years. But their attitude and tone is not right,” he said. Instead of fuelling hatred and raising slogans against Pakistan Army, he said, it was time to think how to move forward and uplift the people by providing them education, health and employment opportunities.

The prime minister said the government would promote tourism to cash in on the potential of the Orakzai area and directed KP chief minister to take steps for it. He told the gathering that Malaysia and Turkey earned $22 billion and $40 billion respectively out of tourism but Pakistan’s earning was minimal.

 Education and employment

Terming provision of jobs to youth as the biggest challenge, Imran Khan said under Rozgar scheme, the youth would be given interest free loans to establish their businesses. He said 60 percent of Pakistan’s population was below 30 years of age and if they were properly educated and imparted skill training, they could boost the economy. Even the women could be trained in information technology to make them earn living while being at home and maintaining their traditions.

The prime minister said government’s main focus and effort would be to promote education and bring foreign investment to explore gas, copper and other mineral resources in the area. He said the government had decided to provide Insaf Sehat Card to every family in tribal region to provide health insurance cover of Rs 720,000.

He said for the first time, his government would be consulting the associations of seminaries to introduce contemporary education like science and engineering there to provide equal opportunities to 2.6 million students to become doctor, judge or general.

 Economy and corruption

Prime Minister Imran Khan said during the last decade, the previous governments had increased the debt burden from Rs 6,000 billion in 2008 to Rs 30,000 in 2018. He said the country’s economic outlook would have been far better had Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari were not given an NRO closing their cases of money laundering.

He said Bilwal Bhutto, Asif Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been threatening to remove the government to conceal their corruption. No country could progress amid corrupt rulers, he remarked. He said the fear of jail was haunting them and factually, it was not the democracy but their looted money under threat.

 Cancer hospital in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed the desire to establish a cancer hospital in Afghanistan, saying he would direct the management of Shaukat Khanam Memorial Hospital (SKMH) to look into the possibility of establishing a similar facility there.

The prime minister said on his way to Orakzai he visited SKMH in Peshawar and met two Afghan patients getting treatment there. Both the Afghan patients belonged to Mazar-i-Sharif and had come to Peshawar for getting treatment, he said, adding it prompted him to establish a hospital across the border.

He also wished peace to the neighbouring country and expressed the hope that the lukewarm bilateral ties will turn better one day. “If there is peace in Afghanistan, then our trade will increase through the route,” said the PM.

 SKMH Peshawar visit

Earlier the PM visited Shaukat Khanum hospital in Peshawar and spoke with patients and inquired about their health.

Some patients complained about absence of cancer medicine Votrient, which cost about 88,000 rupees per pack. The poor patients said they were compelled to purchase the costly medicine from the outside stores which were selling it on exorbitant prices.

The prime minister assured them of resolving the problem and provision of more facilities at the cancer hospital.