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Seven Takeaways From Shaheen Sehbai’s Meeting With Imran Khan

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Senior journalist Shaheen Sehbai, in a piece https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxvGW-hvBlKzT3htZDVXMnBxX2RBX1h1RUdmWk83NnVhc3Y4/view, shared the details interaction with Prime Minister Imran Khan after his visit to the US. Following are the important points for the Naya Daur Media readers.

 

Media

PM: What should I do with this media? They are relentless though I try to accommodate all. But a few are obnoxious.

Sehbai: Mr PM you have to handle this subject very carefully as anything that looks rough or tough will be immediately converted into a Freedom of the Press issue.

PM: Yes! That’s true but when there is accountability of every one, why should the media stay as a sacred cow.

The PM was assertive that the media has to face accountability and the areas he may likely focus would be the issues the politicians and others are facing, like ‘assets beyond means’, taxation, paid or unpaid wages and stay orders by the courts.

The takeaway on this subject was that it was now time that this sacred cow be brought for a check up to the slaughter house and be treated: the healthy ones be allowed to moo and the sick ones let alone to coo.

 

US Visit

Discussion moved on to his US trip and he [PM] was almost ecstatic. He had achieved in three days what others could not do in weeks.

 

Opposition Leaders

“I will not let them go,” he repeated many times. “They have made a mockery of the law and the system and it is time the screw is tightened,” he would moan and murmur, as if all the hurdles had been blown away and now he could take on these characters who he repeatedly said had destroyed the country that could have been a jewel.

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Popularity

He is, however, quite satisfied that the extremely difficult situation for the common man, high inflation and almost out of control and negative onslaughts of the Opposition against his new government had not been able to make any permanent dent to his popularity or image.

“We have now got our feet on the ground and got a handle on the economy. But we have told the truth all the time and people understand. Now the fruits are about to come,” he strongly believes.

 

Reko Diq

He believes it was caused by corruption at the early stages but he also knows that the decision by the international court has opened up a great opportunity for Pakistan to use this huge natural resource.

Since I had originally started writing and highlighting the Reko Diq case before the Supreme Court had taken it up, my sources are still intact and they agree that a new opportunity has come Pakistan’s way.

In fact, when I told Khan that some investors were ready to come to Pakistan for Reko Diq with an unusual offer: That they will buy the first 10 per cent of the gold and copper in advance, and start paying annually hundreds of millions of dollars as soon as the contract is awarded, he was extremely excited, almost flabbergasted, with his eyes wide open.

“Give me the names and contact numbers of these investors and I will invite them to Pakistan right away,” was his instant response.

 

Establishment

On other sensitive matters like his relations with the Establishment and the changes that are now coming up in the military and other security institutions, Imran Khan was quite open and very confident that these issues were not, at all, bothering him and his ties were as good now as they never were between any political government and the Establishment.

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The hints that I got from his very guarded words and observations were that relations were now based on much more stable footing and he was looking forward to a period of continued, exemplary, working relationship at all levels. I cannot use better or more explicit diplomatic words on this subject.

 

Personal Contact

Finally when we were into the final minutes as staffers had started knocking again to request the PM to come down as apparently his entourage and all the ministers and cronies had started cursing me for taking up all his time, Khan shook hands very tightly and then gave me a surprise gift.

He went over to his desk, picked up a pen and wrote his new private, personal phone number asking me to remain in contact and meet him again when I return to Pakistan. Sure I will.

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