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Sharif to announce populist measures in his first speech as PM

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Sharif to announce populist measures in his first speech as PM
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Lahore/Islamabad: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif is expected to announce some populist measures, including steps to reduce power outages, in his first address after taking oath as Pakistan’s Prime Minister on 5 June.

As a first step, the new government would end “unannounced” power cuts and take other steps to tackle the energy crisis, sources in the PML-N said.

The issues to be taken up in Sharif’s speech were discussed at a meeting of senior PML-N leaders and energy experts that was held in Lahore on Wednesday.

“The PML-N government will have to work night and day to rid the country of this menace,” Sharif was quoted as saying at the meeting.

Some “difficult decisions” might have to be taken to address the challenges confronting Pakistan, he said.

The speech will outline the plan of action for the first month of the new government, sources said.

It will also include references to the government’s plans to hold talks with militants and the situation in neighbouring Afghanistan.

PML-N spokesman Mushahidullah Khan said today that Sharif’s maiden speech will cover all national issues, including the energy crisis, law and order, unemployment and the economic situation.

The speech will lay out a roadmap the new government will follow during the next five years, he said.

The PML-N chief will also touch on foreign policy issues like US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal belt and regional peace.

Khan said the speech was prepared with the help of the PML-N’s senior leadership and the final approval was accorded by Sharif.

Sharif, set to become premier for a record third time, has already said his government will make all-out efforts to overcome the energy crisis.

However, he has cautioned people not to expect solutions within days and months and new power plants could take between 18 months and three years to generate electricity.

The PML-N leaders decided that development funds will not be frozen to address the energy crisis.

Earlier, there was a proposal that development funds of lawmakers should be frozen for two years and the money be used to boost power generation.

The meeting discussed short-term measures like seeking help from friendly countries like Saudi Arabia to tackle the energy crisis.

The leaders further decided that no new subsidies should be included in the upcoming budget.

Insiders said the PML-N’s top leadership further decided that the size of the cabinets at the centre and in Punjab would be restricted to about 25 and 32 members, respectively.

Other austerity measures like reducing the protocol and staff of the Prime Minister and Punjab Chief Minister were also discussed.

Senior PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Khwaja Asif, Ishaq Dar, Sartaj Aziz and Shaukat Tareen participated in yesterday’s meeting.

PTI

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