ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's decision regarding recognition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan will be a "regional decision" taken after consultations with regional and international powers, said Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry.

"Pakistan is a responsible part of the international community and does not intend to take a "unilateral decision" in this regard," said the minister, while briefing media regarding decisions taken by the federal cabinet, on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired the cabinet meeting and took it into confidence over the rapidly changing situation in Afghanistan.

The prime minister also apprised the forum about the decisions taken in the National Security Committee's meeting held on Monday.

"We are in touch with our friends, both in the region and internationally, and we will decide accordingly," he said.

"Pakistan will not take any decision in relation to the Taliban government in isolation. We are in contact with other countries and will make a decision in line with the world powers," he said.

Pakistan will not make unilateral decision on recognising Taliban regime: Fawad

Prime Minister Imran Khan also had a detailed discussion with his Turkish counterpart a day ago on the Afghanistan situation, while the US secretary of state had spoken to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the same topic, the minister added.

Regarding the manner of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan, he said, "We are pleased and satisfied that the change of power in Afghanistan caused no bloodshed nor did it trigger a [civil] war, which is quite satisfactory," he said.

He said Pakistan had advised the then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on a number of occasions in the past that it would be unfeasible for him to run Afghanistan unilaterally.

"How could you run the country when a major ethnicity or stakeholder living in that country is not a part of the government?" Chaudhry remarked.

The minister recalled that Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his recent address in Bajaur, had suggested the formation of an all-inclusive government in Afghanistan that enjoys the trust of all in the country.

The federal information minister said he hoped the Taliban would respect the internationally-recognised human rights.

He said cabinet members appreciated Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood for his efforts to implement the single national curriculum, "which is no less than a milestone in educational reforms".

The federal minister said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had promised to enforce a uniform curriculum throughout the country before coming into power.

For the first time, modern syllabus has been rolled out in madrassas, he said, adding that Nazra Quran is also being taught in schools.

The prime minister stressed that the students of grades eight and nine should be taught the "Seerah" of the holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), the information minister said.

He said the cabinet expressed displeasure over the performance of sport boards and the prime minister directed the Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination, Fehmida Mirza, to review the sports policy and come up with a new and comprehensive one.

She has been empowered to change infrastructure of sports in the country besides preparing a new sports policy, the minister said.

The prime minister has directed to change the sports system altogether.

The government and the Olympic Association of Pakistan came under criticism.

Chaudhry said the government had no control over sports associations, adding, however, their elections were usually not held on merit.

The sports federation is not performing up to the mark and there is a need of a total revamp, the information minister said.

Speaking about the federal government's bid to reduce expenses, he said the amount spent on Prime Minister's Office and President's House has been reduced sharply.

Taliban declare 'war is over' as president and diplomats flee Kabul

"The expenses of the prime minister, president, and speaker have been reduced by billions of rupees," the information minister said, as he took a jibe at the then Nawaz Sharif-led government by saying that the Sharifs had declared Jati Umra as camp office.

"We spend tax money carefully," he added.

The cabinet was told that billions were being spent on security and protocol of various personalities.

The cabinet was briefed that Islamabad Police were incurring Rs954 million per annum on security of VIPs, Rs304 million over the security of judiciary. A sum of Rs454 million is being spent on security and protocol of minister and others in Islamabad. Further, in Punjab, some Rs 2,509 million was being spent on security of VIPs. A sum of Rs427 million was being spent on security of Punjab chief minister and ministers. While a sum of Rs105.87 million was being spent on security of former chief ministers and bureaucrats, and Rs1,143 million was being spent on security of judiciary in Punjab.

The National Assembly speaker has saved Rs1.57 billion by returning it to the government, while billion of rupees were being saved by reducing expenditures of the president and prime minister under austerity measures. The prime minister bears the expenses of his Bani Gala home, he added.

The federal cabinet also approved the Lease and Tenancy Policy 2020 for efficient utilisation of dead properties of public sector entities.

The minister said under the policy, 21 properties of Pakistan Postal Services will be given on lease in the first phase.

The cabinet was told that Pakistan Post had some 4,257 properties.

The cabinet had approved Postal Service Lease Policy.

Regarding ensuring transparency in the electoral process, Chaudhry said Prime Minister's Advisor on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan briefed the cabinet about legislative framework for Electronic Voting Machine.

He said in the next 15 days, important decisions will be taken to finalise the proposed legislation regarding use of EVM in next general elections.

Chaudhry said the government is committed to making the next general elections fully transparent and that would only be possible through the use of the EVM as the technology of voting machine has been appreciated at all stages.

The minister urged the opposition parties to come up with recommendations instead of airing baseless criticism regarding electoral reforms.

He said the Ministry of Science and Technology had given successful demonstration at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) about the EVM use.

Pakistan committed to inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan: NSC

The federal cabinet approved to revamp new local body election laws in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) within next 120 days, he added.

Under which, the number of union councils would be increased in proportion to population.

On each 20,000 population, a new union council would be constituted. The prime minister had also directed the concerned officials to expedite finalisation of Islamabad master plan, the minister added.

The federal cabinet was briefed about the vaccination of government employees, the minister said.

Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood told the cabinet that some 86 percent teachers and staff of educational institutes had already been administered Covid vaccines.

Over 97 percent staff of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had also been inoculated. The cabinet approved appointment of Shazia Adnan as Intellectual Property Organisation Director General.

The cabinet reappointed WAPDA Chairman Lt-Gen Muzammil Hussain (retd)for another term.

The cabinet was of the opinion that Muzammil Hussain is supervising the construction of 10 dams and at this critical juncture his leadership must not be changed.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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