ISLAMABAD: No question arises of allowing the US a military base in Pakistan as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has already given the country’s clear policy statement in the Senate.
This was stated by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhary, on Tuesday, at a press conference after a cabinet meeting, in response to a question whether the country’s air bases are being given to the US military.
The minister said the present government ended even the drone surveillance facility after coming to power.
All the bases are in Pakistan’s own use and no discussions are being held with any country for giving air bases.
The federal cabinet has also decided to not engage with any kind of business with India till it reverts to August 5, 2019 position, the minister said, adding that the meeting rejected a summary of the PTV for agreement with an Indian company to broadcast cricket matches between Pakistan and England because South Asia’s cricket rights are with Star and Sony TVs.
The minister said the federal cabinet also approved the proposal to increase State Life Insurance Corporation’s (SLIC’s) paid-up capital and authorised shares.
The meeting also approved appointment of board of directors and chairman of First Women Bank, the minister said, adding that the decision would help expedite the process of privatisation of the First Women Bank.
The minister maintained that the pending issues of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa relating to Net Hydel Profit (NHP) dues have been settled, and a committee has been formed for payment of Rs90 billion to both the provinces.
The minister came down hard on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) for filing a petition in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against what he said giving right to vote to overseas Pakistanis, and stated that the country is no longer facing the problem of current account (C/A) deficit only because of overseas Pakistanis who have been sending foreign exchange back home.
Chaudhary added the overseas Pakistanis are an integral part of the “big family of Pakistan”, and the government strongly condemned PML-N for filing a petition in the ECP.
“We are now waiting for the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP’s) response to the matter,” he added.
Regarding the technology part of the electoral reform, the minister said that 36 conditions of the ECP have been fulfilled and three companies are hired for manufacturing of machines and the Ministry of Information and Technology is also making a demonstration to the ECP.
The process would be completed this week, he added.
Additionally, he said, the Ministry of Information would place an order of 500 EVMs to facilitate press clubs and bar councils across the country.
The prime minister also directed that work on transport and logistics policy should be completed swiftly, he said and added that the law minister also briefed the prime minister about the progress on criminal law reforms.
He said the federal cabinet deferred the proposals for utilisation of Carlton Hotel, Karachi, land for the construction of apartments and regeneration plan of Pakistan Quarters and Jamshed Quarters in Karachi.
The cabinet also approved the appointment of managing director of the Pakistan Housing Foundation.
Former Justice Zia Pervez has been appointed as member of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.
The meeting ratified the Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC’s) decisions of 21 and 26 May and June 2, 2021.
The meeting also ratified the Competition Commission of Pakistan’s (CCoP’s) decision of May 21, 2021.
The government has also decided to digitalise the Ehsaas Programme, third largest cash disbursement programme as it transparently disbursed Rs180 billion among people during the first wave of Covid-19.
More people would be getting benefit once the survey would be completed as so far 90 percent work on the survey has been completed.
The cabinet has given approval to transfer of Telephone Industry of Pakistan to National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) and an inter-ministerial committee has been constituted to resolve the matter in this regard and all employees would be absorbed in the NRTC.
The federal cabinet also appointed MD Utility Stores Corporation.
The minister said all the 70 appointments were made “very transparently and none of them was challenged in the court.”
The minister said that Tariq Malik was made new chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The meeting decided to provide assistance to Tajikistan for Corona, and national anthem would be re-recorded on new technology, he added.
The minister said railways’ upgradation would be possible when the ML-1 would be completed and blamed the opposition for destroying all the institutions.
He said that opposition’s narrative on economy has become dead subsequent to four percent growth and transfer of Rs1.1 trillion to rural areas, “and now there is a need that it should sit down and review its policy with a cool mind. We are ready to talk with the opposition on all issues other than accountability.”
APP adds: “All the airbases are under the use of Pakistan. Right now, no negotiations in this regard are underway as Pakistan cannot give any airbase [to any country],” the minister said while pointing out the policy statement given by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the Senate.
As regards the ‘premeditate truck attack’ on a Muslim family in Canada, the minister condemned the terrorist act. “The West, which always blames the Muslims for extremism, should do some soul-searching as a Muslim family was ‘ruthlessly’ martyred there,” he remarked.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan, time and again, had drawn the world's attention towards Islamophobia by raising the issue vociferously at the global fora.
Unfortunately, Islamophobia has completely penetrated the Western society, which is needed to be rectified through remedial measures at war-footing, he added.
The minister said the cabinet members offered ‘Fateha’ for the martyred of Ghotki’s train accident. The details of initial inquiry, being conducted into the incident, would be made public, he added.
Unfortunately, he said, the national institutions like Pakistan Railways were in a shambles due to illegal appointments, mismanagement and zero-investment by the previous regimes. It was the PTI government, which had launched the mega project of ML-I (Main Line-1) to improve the railway infrastructure, he added.
He held the previous regimes responsible for the tragedy.
Fawad said the PML-N government had spent a huge amount of Rs 300 billion on the Orange Line Train in Lahore. The Railways would not have faced such gruesome situation had the PML-N spent that amount on its betterment.
He said both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) during their tenure plundered the national wealth with impunity. They did not let any institution to flourish, and ruined them with illegal and political appointments.
Likewise, he added, both the parties had ruined the Pakistan Steel Mills, Pakistan International Airlines, and other institutions without any regret.
On the contrary, he said, the PTI government had so far appointed heads of some 60 organizations on merit and apolitical basis, and not a single one had been challenged.
All the appointments were made in line with the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who fully believes in meritocracy and transparency, he added.
About the use of Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) in the next general election, he said the government had presented the electoral reforms bill in the Parliament in October last year with 49 amendments in the existing election laws.
“We want legislation on these amendments in consultation with the opposition parties, so that we can lead to such elections that will be acceptable to all,” he said.
Highlighting the importance of EVMs for fast and accurate compiling of the election results, the minister said it was a general observation that rigging allegations were mostly leveled during the time gap between the end of polling and announcement of results, and the use of EVMs would help remove any loopholes in that regard.
The minister said the Federal Cabinet had accorded approval to the appointment of Najib Agrawala as chairman of the First Women Bank, and Bushra Ehsan, Sabiha Sultan, Akbar Ali, Wajahat Rasool Khan and Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi as members of its Board of Directors.
Fawad said the cabinet okayed the reappointment of Umer Hameed Lodhi as Managing Director of the Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan. Naveed Ismael was appointed as a member of BoD of K-Electric, he added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021