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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary said Tuesday that the federal cabinet has granted approval of special procedure of visa to facilitate the Chinese working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and those who want to bring investment into Pakistan.

Addressing a press briefing along with Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar after a cabinet meeting, Fawad Chaudhary said that two years’ work visa would be granted to Chinese working on the CPEC projects within 48 hours, while their security clearance would be done in 30 days.

APP adds: Fawad said the Federal Cabinet approved a special CPEC Business visa, as a separate category in work business visa, to facilitate the Chinese investment in the country. The Chinese investors would get the visas within 48 hours and get the security clearance within 30 days.

“The arrival of Chinese national businessmen in Pakistan will be easier, who will get two years visa under the new regime,” he added.

The minister said like the “Green Channel”, a separate immigration counter would be established at the airports for the Chinese nationals.

Separate desks in the Ministry of Interior and Pakistan's mission in China would be set up to look into the applications for visas under CPEC, he added.

The cabinet, he said, had also approved extension of six months in the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement with the landlocked Afghanistan.

The Federal Cabinet also decided to hold local government elections in cantonment areas across the country.

The Ministry of Defence was directed to finalize the arrangements in that regard, so a date for the Cantonment Board elections could be announced, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said.

The minister said for the first time in the country's history, it was a paperless cabinet meeting. The cabinet met for record times during the three years of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.

He said since 2008, the cabinet had met for 226 times. Some 67 meetings were held during the entire tenure of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government, while the cabinet met for only 23 times from May 5, 2013 to June 30, 2016 during the regime of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), “which ironically claimed of honouring the sanctity of vote [Vote Ko Izzat Do]”.

Similarly, he said, only six meetings of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) were held on privatization during the PPP's tenure, 21 during the PML-N regime, and 16 in less than three years of PTI government.

“Not even a single meeting of cabinet committees on institutional reforms, state-owned enterprises, China Pakistan Economic Corridor and national economic reforms was held during the PPP and PML-N governments,” he claimed.

Fawad said one could witness the difference that out of total 720 meetings of cabinet committees since 2008, 382 were held during the government of PTI, 193 during the PML-N’s and 145 during PPP’s.

The minister said Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan briefed the cabinet about electoral reforms and the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) was important component of the PTI’s agenda.

The cabinet has expressed its reservation over a tweet posted and subsequently deleted from the website of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The chief election commissioner (CEC) should clarify as to why the ECP's page was misused and take action against those responsible for it.

“We are waiting for action by the CEC against the person involved in the issue” he added.

The minister said the journalists associations, including Parliamentary Journalists Association, different press clubs and bar associations had expressed their willingness to hold their respective elections by using the EVMs. The government would provide them all assistance on their request, he added.

He said ensuring vote right to the overseas Pakistanis was an important agenda of the PTI government. The ECP should take measures for granting the right of franchise to 8.5 million NICOP (National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistanis) holders.

Fawad said Prime Minister Imran Khan had appreciated the performance of his economic team. The PTI government inherited a “ruined” economy, but due to its prudent policies the country was moving towards economic stability.

He said the prime minister also appreciated the Foreign Office and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for playing a leading role on Palestine, and on the recent development on the Kashmir issue.

The minister said the cabinet also welcomed reports regarding improvement in ties between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Pakistan believes that improved relations among Muslim countries would be beneficial for the entire Ummah, he added.

He said the cabinet also approved the formation of a committee by the Interior Ministry as per the procedure laid down in the Anti-Terrorist Act, to review the application of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan seeking removal of ban. The committee would present its recommendations to the cabinet.

The three-member review committee comprising additional secretary interior and two other secretaries would review the TLP's application, he told a questioner.

Fawad said the cabinet accorded its consent to the constitution of Pakistan Television's Board of Directors with Secretary Information and Broadcasting Shahera Shahid as its chairman. Director General Radio Pakistan and PIO (Principal Information Officer) had also been included among its members.

The cabinet also okayed sending of Covid-19-related medicines to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It also approved appointment of Rehan Hamid as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hyderabad Electricity Supply Company (HESCO), and assigned the responsibility of National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) Managing Director to Muhammad Ayub as an interim arrangement till taking over of charge of office by Aizaz Ahmed in August.

To a question, Fawad said the name of Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif had been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) by the cabinet.

About the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the minister said its leaders had no ideology or common agenda.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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