Centre empowers provinces to deal with 'Azadi March'

Firdous claims Nawaz, Shehbaz not on same page regarding Azadi march


Rizwan Ghilzai October 15, 2019
PM Imran Khan. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has decided to let the provincial governments choose whether to stop or allow Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to commence his Azadi march.

“It is left to the provincial governments to take the decision on how to deal with the sit-in of the opposition parties,” said Special Assistant on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan while addressing the media-persons about the decisions taken during the cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday.

“[Former prime minister] Nawaz Sharif and [PML-N President] Shehbaz Sharif are not on the same page over the issue of the sit-in,” said the special assistant.

“Fazl is protecting the looted wealth of leaders of the two parties - Pakistan Peoples Party and PML-N,” said Firdous, adding that if Fazl had public support he would not have been out of parliament.

She said Prime Minister Imran had directed the relevant authorities to keep the prices of essential commodities in check to provide relief to the common man, adding that the PM would meet the provincial chief ministers on Friday to discuss ways to make market price committees more efficient in order to keep prices stable.

The prime minister ordered strict action against profiteers and hoarders, directing the planning minister to keep in control the prices of items that were part of the food basket and used by the people on a daily basis.

Firdous said the prime minister took the cabinet into confidence about his visits to China and Iran.

The prime minister's visit to China was successful, during which China declared Kashmir as a disputed territory and extended its full support to Pakistan on the important issue, she said.

The prime minister, she said, held detailed discussions with the Chinese leadership on economic, defence, social, business, strategic and trade matters in order to follow a futuristic roadmap of bilateral cooperation.

She said Saudi Arabia and Iran were two very important brotherly countries. Pakistan had common social, religious and cultural ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran and the prime minister made an effort to mediate between the two countries.

The Iranian leadership, she said, appreciated the sincere efforts of the prime minister.

The cabinet was also informed about the prime minister's visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (today).

The special assistant said the cabinet considered a 12-point agenda. The cabinet ratified the decisions of its Economic Coordination Committee.

It was decided to make a land bank for the land in possession of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) to use it for public benefit by establishing schools, colleges, hospitals and parks through a well thought-out plan, she added.

The ETPB chairman informed the cabinet that 1,262 acres were recovered during the period of the current government.

The prime minister after receiving a briefing directed that a uniform mechanism should be made to recover the state land illegally held by certain people.

He also directed that the prices of essential and anti-cancer medicines should be kept in reach of common man, she said, adding that the health ministry would move a summary to decrease the prices of 89 medicines.

The cabinet approved the appointment of Dr Ismat Tahir as the managing director of National Fertilizer Marketing Company.

It also approved the appointments of Masood Naqvi as the member of Securities and Exchange Commission Policy Board and members of health boards under the Islamabad Health Regulation Act, Islamabad 2018.

It also approved Real Estate Regulatory Authority under the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act to regulate and facilitate the sector through an institutional mechanism.

A new master plan for Islamabad was also approved, she said, adding that international-level architects and professionals would be hired to execute the master plan with a timeline of two years with the help of a database.

The first master plan of Islamabad was approved in 1960 and according to international practice for urban development, after 20 years such plans were revised.

Due to absence of the new plan, mushroom growth of housing societies and unplanned urban expansion happened and there were challenges of sanitation, drainage and environmental protection and clean drinking water was not available in the capital as per requirement. The unplanned growth damaged the beauty of the city and put at stake the image of the federal capital, she said.

Dr Firdous said it was decided to take up the G-6 Sector in Islamabad as the pilot project under the new master plan.

The cabinet approved building of a state-of-the-art and modern housing sector in G-6. It was decided to restructure the policy on zoning of sectors and high-rise buildings. The people of Islamabad were facing difficulties due to shifting of responsibilities between Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) which was not fully empowered, she observed.

She said in the master plan, different bypasses, ring roads and highways were proposed to divert traffic coming from other parts of the country away from Islamabad.

The cabinet principally approved the separation of policy making and regulatory powers of CDA and make it a modern and autonomous organisation.

Firdous said the cabinet also approved a policy for establishing langar khanas under the Ehsaas Programme through public-private partnership. The project was reflective of the prime minister's desire to make life easy for downtrodden sections of society.

To a question, she said recommendation was forwarded to the National Accountability Bureau to look into the concerns of bureaucrats and businessmen.

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