LAHORE - Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said here on Thursday that simple, and not two-third majority, was required for legislation on extension in the service of the army chief.

Talking to media at the railway station, he said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had a majority in the National Assembly to pass any amendment. “A joint session of the parliament could also be convened if need arises,” he added. To a question, Rashid said the opposition did not accept the results of elections held in 2013 and 2018 under the supervision of unanimously appointed chief election commissioners (CECs).

He said the opposition had taken the issue of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) members and CEC to the court, adding supremacy of the parliament would be affected if the issues supposed to be settled in the House, were settled in courts. “The opposition has been demanding new election and not cooperating for the appointment of the chief election commissioner,” the minister regretted. He said it was strange that Shehbaz Sharif, who had accompanied Nawaz Sharif to the UK for latter’s treatment, was now holding meetings in London.

Lahore to Karachi journey to be completed in 6 hours

Rashid said that despite Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s prophesy that December would prove to be the last month for the government, nothing would happen and it would prove to be a good month for the government. To a question, he said that Sharif brothers would return to the country when the circumstances would become favourable for them. “Otherwise, they would not come back,” the minister added. He said that if Nawaz, a convict, could go abroad on health grounds, then why not Asif Ali Zardari on the same plea when he was just a suspect until now.

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad has said that 1,872 kilometers long track, without any railway crossing or gate, will be laid on Main Line-1 (ML-1) with the cooperation of China. Talking to the media at the inaugural ceremony of Railways Cuisine here at the railway station on Thursday, he said the train would complete its journey from Lahore to Karachi in six hours and from Rawalpindi to Karachi in eight hours after the completion of the ML-1. He announced to reduce freight fare from tonight by 10 percent, and said the decision would be reviewed on December 25 again.

He said that after the setting up of a Railway Food Court on December 25, the railways would be able to compete with the private sector organisations in terms of provision of quality food at cheaper prices.

Praising the new administrative team of the Pakistan Railways, including the chairman/secretary, the CEO and new chief of the Railways Police, the minister hoped that the new team would speed up the process of railways’ revival.

Sheikh announced to start a shuttle train service between Lahore and Wahga from December 14 to facilitate the Indian and Pakistani passengers. The minister said that the Pakistan Railways had become the only railways in the world which was earning profit from passengers as mainly railways earned profit from freight. “The Pakistan Railways facilitates 70 million passengers in a year which shows trust of the people in the PR,” he said.

Vowing to do away with the deficit of the railways in three years, Rashid added that train punctuality had been 90 percent so far which would be improved in a few days.

He said that not a single penny had been spent on purchasing new railway tools during the current period. To a question, he said heirs of victims of the Tezgam Express incident would be given Rs2.1 million each: Rs1.5 million for insurance, Rs0.5 million from the Prime Minister’s Fund and Rs100,000 each from the minister’s fund.