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The government Tuesday announced that it would take the Kashmir dispute with India to the International Court of Justice, after New Delhi revoked special status for occupied Kashmir earlier this month. In the post-cabinet briefing, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan confirmed that the government granted, in principle, approval to take the Kashmir issue to the world court.
She said that considering human right violations and genocide in Indian-occupied Kashmir, the case will be presented in the International Court of Justice, adding that the decision was taken after considering all legal aspects. A panel of lawyers of international repute would be engaged to pursue the case on behalf of Pakistan at the United Nations' top court, Dr Awan maintained. She urged Pakistani media to highlight the Kashmir issue with the collaboration of international media.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while talking to a private TV channel, also stated: "We have decided to take Kashmir case to the International Court of Justice." He further stated that the decision was taken after considering all legal aspects. During the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasised that Kashmir is first line of defence for Pakistan. He emphasised that all elements including the media should intensify their campaign on raising voice against the designs of Narendra Modi to annex Kashmir.
The Prime Minister apprised the cabinet in detail of his telephonic conversation with US President Donald Trump. The Prime Minister informed President Trump that India plans to perpetrate genocide of Kashmiris to change the demographic composition of the occupied region.
The Prime Minister urged upon President Trump that the international community must play its role, constitute a fact-finding mission and stop India from its brutalities in Kashmir. Awan said that cabinet has approved Pakistan-Turkey Strategic Economic Framework to forge stronger cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey.
She said that the Prime Minister will head the high-level cooperation committee from the Pakistani side while the Turkish side will be headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The framework has nine joint working groups that will be headed by minister of economic affairs from Pakistani side. All sectors of economy will be covered by joint working groups and 71 actionable items have been included in them. The items include free trade agreement, technology transfer, capacity building, and defence cooperation. This framework will help connect Pakistan with Central Asia, Russia and the West.
The Prime Minister told the cabinet about the challenges faced by the government when it came to power. He said that economy that was on verge of default was revived and now it is in sustainable mode. The current account deficit has been brought down by 30 percent and in one year it reduced from $ 19.8 billion to $ 13.5 billion. The meeting also took into consideration the investment friendly policies to encourage foreign investors, especially overseas Pakistanis. The cabinet discussed the measures to give confidence to businessmen and ensure business friendly environment. It discussed the procedural challenges in the working of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) that could deter businessmen from taking decisions.
The cabinet endorsed the decisions of Committee on Privatisation taken in its last meeting. The cabinet accorded an approval of Rs 5 billion to give interest-free loans to the poor and homeless people. The Prime Minister also directed for ensuring merit and transparency in disbursing loans. He said that a mechanism and detailed strategy be made to launch the scheme across the country.
The cabinet accorded approval in principle to the Christian Marriage and Divorce Bill as per religious norms of the Christian community. Besides, an approval was given for the bill against domestic violence and protection of women at work place.
The cabinet also discussed salient challenges and achievements of the government during its first year. Various ministers presented proposals and suggestions for public welfare being launched by their ministries. The Prime Minister directed that the government's grievances cells and Pakistan Citizens Portal should work together and share information to avoid duplication.
The cabinet also discussed measures to increase plantation in the country. It suggested involving the youth in plantation of fruit trees. The cabinet directed the concerned ministry for provision of solar stoves in hilly areas where gas facility is not available. Replying to a question, Dr Awan said that Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has a pivotal role in the Afghan peace process. She said that CoAS' continuity is a right step from the Prime Minister because "we need continuity in the policies in the context of regional policies."

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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