ISLAMABAD, Jan 28 (APP):Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday vowed that the mafia, including profiteers and hoarders, responsible for inflation and price hike in the country would be dealt with an iron hand.

At the outset of Federal Cabinet’s meeting, the prime minister said every possible step would be taken to provide relief to the people, who were facing the brunt of inflation, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told a press conference here.

Flanked by Federal Minister for Communications and Postal Services Murad Saeed, she said the committee constituted by the prime minister was probing the recent flour shortage and in the light of its findings, strict action would be taken against the elements involved in the crisis irrespective of their political affiliations.

The prime minster felt pain for the hardships faced by the people during the flour crisis and he would not spare any body behind it, she added.

The SAPM said Imran Khan also directed the Ministry of National Food Security and related organizations to take all measures to ensure smooth supply of edible items to the public.

The cabinet, she said, was briefed on the demand-supply gap of edibles items, including rice, wheat and corn and the situation of their stocks. The prime minister directed that all estimates of surplus crops should be monitored.

Dr Firdous said the cabinet discussed the issue of appointment of new inspector general of police (IGP) Sindh and decided that further consultations should be held for the purpose.The prime minister directed the Sindh governor to consult with the chief minister regarding the names put forth by him for the slot.

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Some cabinet members expressed their reservations about the proposed names, she added.

She said the prime minister issued directives to the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms to find out a way to ensure that in future elections were held in a free, fair and transparent manner and nobody could point the finger at their fairness. Use of technology, including bio-metrics, could ensure election transparency.

She said the cabinet gave approval to the removal of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) on fertilizer to provide relief to the farming community.

She said that the cabinet did not approve a memorandum of understanding for building of prefabricated houses, with the directive to the ministry concerned that transparency should be ensured by following the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules and inviting open bidding.

She said the Special Assistant to the PM on Health briefed the cabinet about the Coronavirus and challenges related to it. The prime minister, she said, issued the directives for provision of all possible help to Pakistani students stranded in the Wuhan province. The Foreign Office had set up an information desk for providing updates to their family members,She said the cabinet was also briefed about the preparations being made for the observance of Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5. The cabinet appealed to the media houses to dedicate one hour for highlighting the Kashmir issue and exposing the human rights abuses being committed by the Indian occupation forces in held Jammu and Kashmir.

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The cabinet, she said, was also briefed about the improvement of economic indicators.
Replying to questions, the SAPM said she had been warning Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman that major opposition parties would use him as a ’tissue paper’ and now he himself had realized that he was used by them.

About the expulsion of some members from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet, she said it was the prerogative of chief minster to have a team of his choice for serving the people.

She said there was no political crisis in Punjab as Chief Minister Usman Buzdar fully enjoyed the support of allied parties. Buzdar would redouble efforts for the resolution of people’s problems as envisioned by the prime minister, she added.

To a question about the prime minister’s visit to Davos (Switzerland), Dr Firdous she said the visits to Davos for attending the World Economic Forums were sponsored by the think-tank of Sehgal family in the past, but that fact had not been made public.

She said there was need of reforms in the Sindh police as the opponents of Sindh government alleged that the force was being used for their victimization.