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Punjab govt dismisses criticism over purchase of helicopter as misleading    

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PIT) led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was accused of using its official helicopter like an Uber or a Careem Service.

Punjab Chief Minister’s Special Assistant on Information and Culture Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan had blamed the PTI-led government of using officials resources extravagantly .

Malik told a press conference that the purchase of a helicopter by the Punjab government was being blown out of proportion by a section of the media with exaggerated figures and fabricated facts.

He asserted that a comparison in a section of media between the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments on austerity measures was misleading and false.

“In K-P, helicopter was used not only for an election campaign by the PTI-led government but also by the chief minister of the province to attend wedding functions,” Malik claimed.

He said on the other hand in Punjab, the helicopter was used only for government business. “Helicopter use was not specific to the chief minister, as is being portrayed,” he added. The special assistant to the Punjab CM further said the  and Inspector General of Punjab Police were also entitled to use the helicopter for official business.

The special assistant said the helicopter was used as an air ambulance. He said a new helicopter was the need of the government after the last helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. For a province like Punjab, it was almost impossible for the chief minister to travel long distances around the province and attend to government business in real time, he added.

“The cost of the purchased helicopter was around Rs1.5 billion and not Rs2billion or Rs2.5 billion,” he said. Malik said the initial quotation of the helicopter was around $17.5 million which after negotiation was brought down by $2.5 million dollars.

He said the helicopter was not lavishly loaded with luxuries as being claimed. He said insurance money of Rs200 million was also successfully claimed by the government of the previous helicopter.

He said if the government wanted a luxury helicopter, it could have purchased a Rs3 billion worth of German helicopter. He also denied the purchase of a jet by the provincial government.

Regarding the usage of the helicopter by Minister Food Bilal Yaseen and Hamza Shehbaz, he said the minister for food went for an official business, adding it was not a private tour whereas Hamza was accompanying in an official visit.

 

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