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The federal cabinet has approved signing of eight memoranda of understanding to be inked with Saudi Arabia during the upcoming visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan. The cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed dissatisfaction on the release of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on bail in the Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases.
Briefing media persons about the decisions taken by the cabinet, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry Thursday said that the government and nation are disappointed on the release of Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif on bail in the Ashiana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases. Chaudhry said that there are two accountability systems in place in the country, adding, "The poor have to wait for years to get justice, while the rich are given bail in no time." If someone gets bail then it doesn't mean that he has been acquitted, said Chaudhry while responding to a question.
The information minister said the NAB should challenge the bail decision on immediate basis as nation has been adversely affected by this decision. "The message sent to the nation is that the big fish can still get away," said Chaudhry. "The NAB chairman should review Bureau's prosecution and investigation to see as to why the cases are not reaching their logical end," added the minister.
He said that Shahbaz had been given all facilities in the Ministers' Enclave. He said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf dismantled the entrenched two-party system and started the process of accountability in the country. He said the upcoming visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is highly significant as it is a milestone in numerous successes of PTI-led government at the foreign policy front. He said Pakistan has once again become a key player in the Middle East politics. Chaudhry said, "Our reconciliatory role has been recognised and Pakistan is making sincere efforts to bridge the differences between various brotherly Muslim countries."
He said the Board of Investment (BoI) will also arrange meetings of over 40 top Saudi businessmen with local businessmen and industrialists and various agreements would also be signed between the two sides. He said during the Saudi Crown Prince's visit, the agreements and MoUs to be signed and the overall investment coming into the country will be more than overall investment during the last decade. He said the Saudis will invest $8 billion alone in an oil refinery.
Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan will himself receive the Saudi Crown Prince. The visiting dignitary will be given a salute of 21 guns. He will hold meetings with the President and Prime Minister, besides attending a number of meetings. When asked the Saudi Crown Prince will also visit India after Pakistan, the minister hoped that his visit to the neighbouring country would also benefit Pakistan. "We are good friends of Saudi Arabia and hoped that the Crown Prince's visit to two countries would bring prosperity in the whole region," he added.
Responding to a question, he said whatever the expenses to be met on the visit of the crown prince would be borne by the Saudi government. Chaudhry said, "We are making sincere efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan and the upcoming negotiations between Taliban and the USA will bring regional stability which will ultimately promote peace, business and prosperity in the region."
The minister for information and broadcasting said liberalisation of visa regime and steps taken to improve ease of doing business will encourage more investors to invest in the country.
The information minister said the cabinet meeting also reviewed the progress of previous cabinet meetings. He said so far 26 cabinet meetings have been held with 440 decisions taken. Of these, 243 decisions have been implemented, he added.
Giving details of other cabinet decisions, he said the cabinet gave approval to appointment of Zafar Usmani as new chairman of Pakistan State Oil, along with reconstitution of its Board. He said an overseas Pakistani Adnan Ghani has been appointed as head of Zarai Tarqqiati Bank Limited. His appointment gives a message that PTI government appreciates and recognises the positive contributions of overseas Pakistanis in Pakistan.
The minister said that Naseer Khan Kashani has been appointed as chairman Gwadar Port. He said the Essential Services Act has been declared at State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan. The cabinet was briefed that process on transferring Sheikh Zayed Hospital and other hospitals to the Centre, he said. The minister said draft proposal for merger of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority and National Disaster Management Authority was approved. The cabinet also granted approval to Board of Pakistan Institute of Management Sciences (PIMS) Islamabad.
Chaudhry said a committee has been set up for water payment surcharge issue to Azad Kashmir. He said National Anti-Narcotics Policy was also laid before the cabinet. He said that the meeting also decided that all industrial zones should be provided with gas and electricity.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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