Federal Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the current government has the will to make amendments to the Constitution with a consensus, to bring it in line with Pakistan’s requirements.
“In the past, there was no proper mechanism for the smooth transition of power in the country, but through the 20th amendment, the Election Commission of Pakistan has been empowered which is a great achievement of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led government,” she commented. Awan expressed these views while briefing the media after the federal cabinet’s meeting.
Responding to a question, the minister said that the new chief election commissioner (CEC) would be appointed through a proper constitutional procedure, and the leader of the opposition would be consulted in all important issues, including the CEC’s appointment. She added that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was already in talks with the leader of the opposition and other stakeholders regarding such decisions.
Awan also talked about restrictions on the media, saying that it was an important institution in any democracy and the government could never think of suppressing it.
Earlier, Prime Minister Gilani chaired the meeting of the federal cabinet and approved important recommendations presented by the ministries. The cabinet discussed progress made on the restructuring of Pakistan Steel Mills and ways to improve production of vital economic sectors of the country. Gilani directed that concrete plans in this regard should be brought before the cabinet in the next meeting.
The finance secretary briefed the meeting on the trends of prices of essential commodities in the country. It was informed during a presentation on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), that during the week ending on 15 March, 2012, a trend of rising prices was observed among 25 items, including tomatoes, rice, pulses, and vegetable ghee. However, the price of tomatoes would decrease as the fresh crop was due in April. There was also a positive outlook, as prices of five items decreased during the same period. The items include garlic, chicken, eggs, onions and potatoes.
Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) chairperson Farzana Raja also briefed the meeting about the scheme and its achievements to eradicate extreme and chronic poverty and the empowerment of women.
She informed that 6 million families were benefiting from this programme through direct assistance, and 20,000 families had been selected through ballots who would qualify for the Waseela-e-Haq programme. Under this scheme, 3 million children of the 6 million families would be enrolled in educational institutions.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2012.