ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to ban broadcast of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in Pakistan in a tit for tat response to a similar move by Indian broadcasters and the Indian government’s ‘organised’ attempt to ‘harm cricket’ in Pakistan.
“The Indian broadcaster pulled out from broadcasting the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches to harm Pakistan's cricket and the decision to ban airing the IPL matches was taken in that background,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday.
Chaudhry, who was addressing a news conference after a cabinet meeting, said Pakistan believes that sports, culture, and other showbiz activities should not be politicised, but India adopted an aggressive posture against Pakistani players and artists.
“India misses no opportunity to harm Pakistan's cricket,” he added.
Fawad said the Ministry of Information had proposed to the cabinet to impose a ban on telecasting IPL matches in Pakistan. "It does not make sense for us to allow an Indian domestic tournament to be promoted here."
After the cabinet's endorsement of the ban, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) would ensure that no IPL match is now shown on any TV channel, he added.
Resolutions tabled against bid to rename BISP
BISP name change
Chaudhry said the government has decided against changing name of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), but it would soon launch a similar social protection project by the name of ‘Ahsas’.
“Several similar initiatives would also be taken under the banner of Ahsas, but the BISP’s name will not be changed.” The decision comes a day after the Pakistan Peoples Party submitted two different resolutions in legislative assemblies, asking the government to refrain from taking any such action.
PM Imran Khan had casually hinted at renaming the BISP during his visit to Sindh’s Ghotki district on Saturday. However, the top leadership of the ruling party also seemed to be divided on the issue as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi took a separate stance on the BISP name change.
“Personally, I am not in favour of changing name of the BISP,” the foreign minister said when quizzed by the media in Multan on Sunday. “[Changing the name] is a legislative matter and a legal process must be followed in this case,” he had said.
The information minister said the federal cabinet formally approved the creation of a new division for social protection of the poor and poverty alleviation. The new division, headed by Dr Sania Nishtar, would be named 'Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division'.
“For the first time in the country's history, a full-fledged division is being created for poverty alleviation. Under Ehsas programme for poverty alleviation, loans would be provided to the jobless youth and to the shelter fewer people for the construction of houses,” he said.
The minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government is taking all necessary steps to eradicate poverty and launching a new social welfare programme is another step in the same direction.
He said the cabinet also approved a budget of Rs57.3 billion for Khassadars and other law enforcement agencies (LEAs) working in the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The minister said the cabinet also gave approval to the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Council (ECC).
Chaudhry said the prime minister directed authorities to prepare a complete roadmap regarding procurement of wheat, cotton, and rice to benefit the farmers. Export of one million tons of surplus wheat is approved by the cabinet, he added.
“It was the PTI government's efforts due to which the sugarcane growers got suitable prices of their crop for the first time. The prime minister also advised the cabinet to evolve a comprehensive policy to set prices of vehicles so that the consumers were saved from overcharging,” he added.
The minister said the cabinet had taken 607 decisions during its 33 meetings since the PTI came to power. About 375 decisions had been fully implemented, while the rest were in the implementation phase.
He said the cabinet also gave approval to the appointment of Arshad Malik as the chief executive officer of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The cabinet also approved reconstitution of the boards of Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, the Oil and Gas Development Authority, the Sui Southern Gas Company, and the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd, he added.
Responding to various questions, he said Finance Minister Asad Umar would present a comprehensive economic roadmap. The economy is now far better as compared to August 2018 when the PTI took charge of the government.
Steps are being taken to ensure that during summer, especially in the holy month of Ramazan, the people get relief from load shedding, he added. He said Minister for Energy Umar Ayub would soon announce a roadmap for energy.
About military courts, the minister said at the time of approval of the National Action Plan in 2015, the decision in that regard was made in consensus and now extension in their tenure would also be decided in consensus with all the political forces.
“However, the political parties should keep the national interest in mind while making a decision about the military courts, and should not attach the issue of accountability with it,” he said.
BISP name change move stirs controversy
He said during the last 10 years, Sindh got almost Rs9 trillion as its share in the National Finance Commission (NFC) award; however, the amount was transferred abroad instead of being spent on the people's welfare. “The people of Sindh are also questioning the transfer of national wealth abroad.”
To a question, he said overall the 18th Constitutional Amendment is a good piece of legislation, but there is a need to review some of its portions in the national interest.
Fawad said the entire world had rejected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s narrative against Pakistan and even Indian people have raised questions about it. He advised Modi to contest next elections on the basis of his government's performance in past five years and not on anti-Pakistan hype.
The health of Nawaz Sharif
The minister said a week had passed since Nawaz Sharif was released from jail, but so far he was not admitted to any hospital. “Maryam Nawaz, who used to give updates on the health condition of her father on daily basis, has also stopped issuing tweets. I hope Nawaz Sharif would have overcome mental stress by now and he should get treatment before his six-week bail period expired,” Chaudhry said.
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